How can the tide turn so fast in soccer.
A season ago Liverpool humiliated Manchester United with an aggregate score of 9-0 in their two Premier League clashes.
However, on Sunday it is the Red Devils who are looking to double the league over their biggest rivals as they look to claim their first victory at Anfield since Wayne Rooney scored in a 1-0 triumph in January 2016.
Man United need a win if they are to keep their title hopes 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal – albeit with two games to play.
In the meantime, Liverpool will hope to build on their recent better form, which saw them keep four clean sheets in a row, with three wins in those matches. They are now just six points behind Tottenham in the Champions League race – also with two matches in hand.
So where can Sunday’s game be won and lost? Sportsmail checks.
Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd are looking to clinch a league double over their biggest rivals
Manchester United are in great form and have a real chance of ending the turmoil at Anfield
Liverpool have shown improvement in the league but a 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League is a reminder that all is not well at Anfield
Can Alexander-Arnold silence Rashford?
Manchester United legend Gary Neville believes Marcus Rashford will be looking to take on Trent Alexander-Arnold at Anfield on Sunday – and he should.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been vulnerable at the back all season and despite the league’s recent improvement, stopping the red-hot Marcus Rashford will be a formidable task.
Rashford taught Alexander-Arnold a memorable lesson early in his Liverpool right-back career, giving him one of his toughest days on the pitch in a 2-1 victory for Man United at Old Trafford in March 2018.
Alexander-Arnold, who was only 19 at the time of the match, later stated that he had underestimated the United striker who scored both goals for the Red Devils that day.
Now the 24-year-old Liverpool star knows he shouldn’t underestimate Rashford – especially as the United star is enjoying the best goalscoring streak of his career.
Rashford has scored eight goals in as many league games for a total of 25 in all competitions this season.
He plays with the utmost confidence, and if Alexander-Arnold is to silence Rashford, he will need the support of his teammates.
This is something the Liverpool star alluded to during pre-match preparation, admitting it will be a difficult task but insisting it must be a team effort.
Marcus Rashford (right) gave young Trent Alexander-Arnold a rotten time in 2018
Alexander-Arnold will need help from his teammates to help silence the red-hot Rashford
How United fight chaotic Nunez
At the other end of the field, how Man United fight Darwin Nunez will be a big topic for discussion.
While he has faced criticism for his inconsistent finishing, there is no doubt about the chaos and excitement he brings whenever he performs for Liverpool.
His mix of electric speed and impressive strength instantly makes him a threat to defenders, and when used in a more controlled fashion, he has the potential to become one of the deadliest strikers to ever wear a Liverpool shirt.
At the moment it is impossible to predict what will bring – whether it will be a lack of a player or scoring a brilliant goal.
But Man United must come up with a plan to deal with the Uruguayan striker, who could be a handful if Liverpool break the counter-attack.
Few defenders can keep up with him when he goes full speed as shown by his incredible run which led Liverpool to break their deadlock in a win over Everton.
He also scored brilliantly against Newcastle and Real Madrid and was unlucky enough to score against Wolves earlier this week.
It will be interesting to see United take on Nunez, with many believing Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be included in the starting XI due to his return to form and excellent tackling skills.
The threat of a counter-attack by Nunez and Mohamed Salah is a threat Manchester United should take seriously.
Darwin Nunez is a threat to defenders and United should watch out for him on the counter
Nunez’s form has improved recently with goals against Newcastle and Real Madrid and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (right) is a likely candidate tasked with silencing the chaotic striker
Casemiro should DOMINATE the midfield fight
Two of the best defensive midfielders in world football in recent years will appear in Casemiro and Fabinho.
However, the big difference is that Casemiro is playing at the top of his game and Fabinho has had a dismal season.
Liverpool’s biggest weakness this season has been the ease with which opposing teams have been able to play through their midfield, with the likes of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson being a shell of their former selves.
The Reds know Casemiro well from their two Champions League final defeats to Real Madrid in 2018 and 2022 – both games where the Spanish giants won a midfield battle.
Many would be surprised if Casemiro made no difference in the middle of the park when the two teams meet at Anfield.
It’s clear Liverpool need a boost in midfield this summer, but on Sunday they’ll have to find a way to reduce Casemiro’s effectiveness.
Fabinho’s struggles this season have been well documented and as the Brazilian is likely to feature, he will need to show a big improvement on Sunday to help his team in mid-park and show why many regarded him as one of the best defensive midfielders in world football.
Jordan Henderson is likely to return after a rested game against Wolves and teenager Stefan Bajcetic will be under a lot of pressure if he retains his place in the most important match of his young career.
Casemiro in his latest form is likely to dominate the midfield battle against Liverpool
Liverpool will need Fabinho at his best if they are to have any chance of winning the battle
“Pressing Monster” by Wout Weghorst
Wout Weghorst’s loan move from Man United came as a surprise when announced, but he is the type of player Klopp would love.
His relentless pressing is something that has been a staple of Jürgen Klopp’s team in recent seasons, having previously been hailed in the media as a ‘monster with pressure’.
That could be a huge factor this weekend as United take on a Liverpool side who have been penalized all season for defensive errors.
Weghorst, who will likely play alongside Rashford and Antony, will not give Liverpool’s defenders time to have possession and the Reds will need to play without the panic and anxiety that has inflicted on their defense this season.
Klopp’s forward line lacks the pressing ability they had when Sadio Mane was still at the club or when Roberto Firmino made the starting eleven.
Firmino recently returned from injury but it’s likely Liverpool will be looking to punish United with the speed of Nunez and Salah alongside Diogo Jota or United’s former target Cody Gakpo.
Wout Weghorst will be pressing up front which Liverpool will have to watch out for
Can Liverpool build on recent clean sheets?
Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in a row in the league and ten points out of a possible 12 gave them a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
A 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, however, looms over their heads and will be a worry for Klopp given the quality Man United have on their side.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Liverpool’s improved league form came with the help of Virgil van Dijk’s return from injury.
Van Dijk has struggled this season and has even admitted that playing too many games due to an injury that kept him out for most of the 2020-21 season may have led to his recent defeat.
He said he used the time off the pitch to “reflect” and is determined to get back to his best form.
In another reinforcement, Ibrahima Konate is back in action meaning Liverpool have the strongest defensive partnership available.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip’s partnership has failed in recent months, with the former even surviving a pitiful performance alongside Van Dijk against Real Madrid.
The presence of Van Dijk alongside Konate will give Klopp more confidence that they can cut themselves off from Man United this weekend.
Liverpool should have their strongest centre-back in Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk
Salah fired a shot
It was Mohamed Salah’s weakest season at Liverpool, but he scored 20 goals in all competitions.
In doing so, he became only the second Liverpool player in history (after Ian Rush) to score more than 20 goals in six consecutive seasons.
The Liverpool striker is back to form in good time and Salah’s recent performance against Manchester United will strike fear into the minds of visiting supporters this weekend.
He is the Reds’ all-time top scorer against United in all competitions with 10 goals.
Nine of those goals have come in his last five appearances against them, with the Egyptian scoring in every game in the series – including a hat-trick at Old Trafford last season.
Mo Salah is back and has scored more than 20 goals in six consecutive seasons for Liverpool