Manchester United next face Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Of the two massive games they encountered recently, the PSG game broke Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s unbeaten streak, while the Chelsea win in the FA Cup reinstated much confidence.
Unbeaten in the league, it will be interesting to see what will occur if the Norwegian emerges triumphant once more on Sunday:
1. Permanent Gig Confirmed?
A scenario could certainly play out wherein Liverpool can be defeated on Sunday, and the announcement confirming Solskjaer as the permanent gaffer will be done on Monday.
Manchester United doing so would display much confidence and send out a clear message. The PSG setback aside, the Norwegian has done little wrong at the club, and has managed to reinstate amongst the fans and players the feeling that traditionally goes along with being a Red Devil.
By defeating a bitter rival like Liverpool, who was also a team that succeeded for the largest stretch of time this season, no better realistic precedent can be set by him for the permanent job. Unless, of course, a scintillating comeback can be engineered against PSG as well, but why wait till then?
2. Huge Blow For Liverpool’s Title Race
For a team that at one point felt like it would go unbeaten all season, Liverpool’s recent run of games has shown a worrying trend. Despite having not tasted defeat in general since the ousting in the FA Cup to Wolves, Klopp’s men are facing the steady presence of Manchester City on par.
The Sky Blues are presently tied on points with the Merseyside club, and if United defeat them, their title hopes will be massively affected.
While it is too early to call the season, and a repeat of what occurred between City and United back in 2012 seems likely, this game will certainly be viewed as a watershed moment in retrospect.
3. Quid Pro Quo
It will certainly be an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch my back’ moment for the Mancunian clubs. Although bitter rivals, their recent activity has been influential in determining United’s fate.
City defeating Arsenal and Chelsea directly put Solskjaer’s men in a position wherein they were able to elevate themselves to the top four moments after those victories were notched. Now, United can pay back the favor by defeating Liverpool.
Indirectly, this could be the biggest contribution that United can make towards City’s hope for retaining the title. If that does occur, though, the postponed Manchester Derby towards the end of this season could be viewed in an all new light.
4. Solskjaer Satisfied
This mindset stuck with the Norwegian, an indication that the United DNA runs strong. When he managed Cardiff City, Liverpool were in a similar position, leading the table on Christmas and looking likely title contenders.
At that time, Solskjaer was quizzed as to whether he considered that Liverpool team to be a similar title-winning side to the Manchester United teams in which he had played. The gaffer aptly replied to that by saying he couldn’t care less.
If he wins against Liverpool on Sunday, he’ll certainly rejoice in it greatly as an achievement as a Red Devils as well as a personal one.
5. Top Four Confirmed For United
Given the state of affairs at Arsenal and Chelsea and the Premier League form of the two clubs, it seems likely that a win at Old Trafford on Sunday will be a win that places them firmly in the top four.
The London clubs will have a daunting task at uprooting United hereon, and while nothing can be said for certain, the Solskjaer win-train seems unlikely to allow a top-four finish to slip outside their grasp.
Regardless, the top-six race will certainly be a delightful one to watch during the final weeks of this season.
6. Revenge Complete
The 3-1 loss to Liverpool in December thoroughly handicapped Manchester United. The fact that Jose Mourinho had to be sacked, and the club was sent into temporary disarray, speaks volumes about how much of an impact that particular defeat had.
By now defeating Liverpool, a strong message will be sent, and some respite can be salvaged for that particular loss.
Incidentally, while that defeat robbed one manager of a job, this one has the potential of permanently cementing the gig of another.
7. Klopp’s Woes Continue
Jurgen Klopp simply hasn’t been able to win at Old Trafford. While Liverpool have prevailed over United on numerous occasions since the German has taken over, the Theatre of Dreams has always presented itself as a staunch destination for the gaffer across all competitions.
In fact, this ought to be viewed through a wider lens. Since they last won the league in 1990, Liverpool have made a total of 33 trips to Old Trafford. Out of those, victory has been salvaged by them just 5 times. How will that number fare on Sunday?