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FA Cup quarter-finals Manchester United vs Liverpool: Preview

FA Cup quarter-finals commence this weekend with a blockbuster clash awaiting us as Manchester United welcome bitter rivals Liverpool to Old Trafford with a trip to Wembley at stake. One of the fiercest rivalries in world football resumes this Sunday as the Merseyside Reds make the short trip to a familiar yet hostile environment where they have had success of late.

The FA Cup is Manchester United’s only real shot at salvaging their season, with the Red Devils dumped out of all other cup competitions and seem a long way from finishing inside the top four. United have had a tumultuous season as fans have endured a frustrating campaign with injuries playing a huge part in denting Erik ten Hag’s plan of following up on a promising 22/23 season.

With a new era about to begin at Old Trafford, there are doubts over the future of ten Hag continuing in the hot seat and an FA Cup title run might well save the Dutchman’s job. Man United were last in action against Everton at home in the Premier League, as they won 2-0, thanks to penalties from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. It was not the best of performances from the Mancunians, but Alejandro Garnacho was the star man, winning both penalties and looking like the most dangerous player on the pitch, even as others around him failed to threaten.

It will take something much better from Manchester United on Sunday to get past a strong Liverpool side. The Red Devils were the runners up in the FA Cup last season and they will undoubtedly be aiming to win the oldest cup competition in the world, something they have not managed since the 2015/16 season.

Liverpool were last in action on Thursday night in the Europa League as they continued their fine form with another brilliant win, demolishing Sparta Praha 6-1 at Anfield to go through to the quarter-finals with an aggregate score of 11-2. Jurgen Klopp named a strong lineup for the second leg with Mohamed Salah the most unexpected name in the starting lineup, despite the Reds leading 5-1.

With the threat of injuries and fatigue looming large over the Reds, not many expected the Egyptian to start, but he played the full 90 minutes, netting his 20th goal of the season in the process. Liverpool were a class apart on the night as they scored 4 goals within the first 15 minutes, displaying their attacking prowess in full. It was a perfect build up for Klopp’s men as they prepare to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Also read: Battle Of Giants: Stan Collymore Foresees Intense Showdown Between Manchester United And Liverpool In FA Cup Quarter-Final Clash

When & Where?

Date: Sunday, 17th March 2024.
Time: 3.30 pm GMT.
Venue: Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, UK.

Match Officials

Referee: John Brooks.
Assistant referees: Lee Betts & Timothy Wood.
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor.
VAR: Tim Robinson.
Assistant VAR: Edward Smart.
Support VAR: Christopher Kavanagh

Team News

There is some good news for Man United fans as Erik ten Hag confirmed a few key players would return for Sunday’s cup tie with defenders Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and in-form striker Rasmus Højlund all slated to come back into the team. Midfielder Mason Mount also returned to training with the team this week, but looks unlikely to be fit enough for Sunday, with the post-international break matches earmarked for his return.

However, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial remain on the treatment table, recovering from long-term injuries. United were served two fresh injury blows with the club confirming that backup keeper Altay Bayindir and veteran defender Jonny Evans are set to miss the game with the former suffering a muscle strain in training and the latter picking up a knock in last weekend’s win over Everton.

Liverpool themselves have a few injury issues with first-choice keeper Alisson, defender Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip, midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Stefan Bajcetic and Curtis Jones and forwards Diogo Jota and Ben Doak all ruled out from the trip to Old Trafford.

However, Ibrahim Konate could return to the lineup alongside Ryan Gravenberch, who was spotted in training before their Europa League fixture. Bobby Clark was taken off in the second half on Thursday night with an injury which Jurgen Klopp later confirmed and it remains to see if he recovers in time for Sunday.

Match Analysi

The Northwest Derby always kicks up classics, and a knockout fixture adds an extra flavour to the already spicy affair. Liverpool are in devastating form and have not lost since a 3-1 loss to Arsenal at the start of February. That was one of their only two domestic losses this season, with the other coming in late September. United themselves have started to pick up form after a slow first half of the season and have had a very good 2024. They have picked up eight wins and only two defeats in their last eleven games, although the quality of their football has left much to desire.

The two teams could scarcely have had different campaigns up till now. United have stumbled their way to 6th in the league, playing drab and lifeless football at times which has seen them crash out of the UCL group stages and the Carabao Cup third round. They were hardly dominant in their third and fourth round wins over Wigan Athletic and Newport County whereas, while they played decent football against Nottingham Forest in the fifth round, they still needed a late Casemiro goal to bail them out with a 1-0 win.

On the other hand, Liverpool have played exciting and dazzling football this season and having already bagged the Carabao Cup, they are still in the running for the Premier League title and are the favorites for the Europa League title. Despite injuries, Klopp – who recently announced his departure at the end of the season – has adjusted his team accordingly with young academy graduates stepping up brilliantly and leaving a mark on the team.

Thankfully for Manchester United and the Old Trafford faithful, performances hardly matter in a knockout cup competition, with a win the most important statistic. United are the only side in the last 55 matches to have stopped the mighty Merseyside Reds from scoring after a strong defensive showing from the Red Devils in their league meeting at Anfield back in December.

The Red Devils also have history on their side as Liverpool have failed to win at Old Trafford in the FA Cup for almost a century, with their last fixture coming in January of 2021 as United ran out 3-2 winners then in an entertaining game.

Given United’s defensive frailties and the number of shots they have conceded on a regular basis this season, the Red Devils have a mountain to climb against one of the most in-form teams in the world. However, any United fan would be quick to remind you that mountains are there to be climbed and Erik ten Hag’s men will certainly be raring to go in one of the most awaited and watched derbies around the world.

Predicted Lineups

Man United predicted XI vs Liverpool: Andre Onana; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot; Casemiro, Kobbie Mainoo; Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Rasmus Højlund.

Also read: Injury Woes For Nottingham Forest Star Casts Doubt On Nigeria’s Friendlies

Liverpool predicted XI vs Man United: Caoimhin Kelleher; Connor Bradley, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahim Konate, Joe Gomez; Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo, Dominic Szoboszlai; Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah.

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