The momentum of their Champions League comeback could fuel Man Utd to victory against unbeaten Liverpool at Old Trafford on Super Sunday, says Jamie Carragher.
United staged a typically dramatic comeback to beat Atalanta 3-2 from two goals down on home soil on Wednesday night, in a game which had looked like threatening their very hopes of staying in the competition once Merih Demiral fired in the Italians’ second with only half an hour gone.
On a run of five defeats from their previous seven games, an electric atmosphere helped complete a stunning second-half turnaround and relieve some pressure on under-fire boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, something Jamie Carragher told the Essential Football Podcast could play its part in Sunday’s game, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
“I could see Man United winning this game,” he said. “I think certainly on the back of what happened on Wednesday night, the atmosphere will be fantastic, especially at the start of the game.
“Man United at home against Liverpool notoriously, going back 10 or 15 years, they’ve had Liverpool’s number in the fixture. Liverpool have found it really difficult to win at Old Trafford and going back a long time, even the great Liverpool teams, it’s always been a venue Liverpool have struggled at.
“Even in Jurgen Klopp’s time, I think he’s only won there once so it will always be a tough game for Liverpool no matter what the circumstances are or the quality of Man United.
“But there’s no doubt that going into the game, Liverpool are a better team. They’ve proven that over the last few years and at the start of this season and if Liverpool play well, that could be enough to win. But even if they do win this game, it will be very tight. Man United have got great players, they’re at home with a great atmosphere against a club who notoriously don’t do well in this venue.”
Liverpool must beat title rivals to claim crown
Even since the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s dominant reign in 2013, Liverpool have won only twice at Old Trafford, with one of those victories last season’s 4-2 victory in May as the Reds finished the season on a high.
If they can win again on Sunday, it will represent their first back-to-back league victories at their arch enemies since 2002 under Gerard Houllier. That record, Carragher said, needs to improve if Liverpool are to add to their 2019/20 Premier League crown.
He said: “If Liverpool want to win the league, they’ll have to start winning games against the other so-called ‘big six’ or ‘top four’. This is their third opportunity so I think it would be a really big statement if Liverpool could go to Old Trafford and win for that reason.
“Whether last season gives the Liverpool players that bit of confidence to go to Old Trafford, but for me, it’s a completely different proposition and Liverpool have found it difficult historically really.
“We had a little spell of winning there under Gerard Houllier, but there hasn’t been too much since that really. From Liverpool’s point of view, they’ll want to put in a good performance, but I think they’ve got to start winning at Old Trafford. This would be the third game Liverpool have played this season against a rival, and they haven’t won any of the other two.”
Extra confidence for comeback kings?
Carragher added that the manner of the two side’s respective victories in midweek – both by a 3-2 scoreline – meant United may take more confidence from their comeback win than their visitors, who threw away a two-goal lead at Atletico Madrid before Mohamed Salah’s late penalty.
He said: “In some ways, they may feel better than Liverpool, if you’re 2-0 up and opposition come back to 2-2 and then win 3-2, there’s almost relief that you never threw it away. But with Man United, maybe it’s a different feeling slightly.
“Obviously there’s a different level of opposition, going away to Atletico Madrid is a much tougher proposition than Atalanta at home in the Champions League.
“But I think there will be a great buzz about Man United going into the game with the crowd. I think in the opening 10 or 15 minutes, you’ll see that from Man United. They’ll want to take that and make a good start in the game.”
Mane’s role in Liverpool resurgence
While Salah has once again stolen the headlines for Liverpool this season, rejuvenated Sadio Mane has played a major part in the Reds’ improvement from last season, and with eight games gone the Senegal forward is already approaching half his Premier League goal tally from 2020/21.
His resurgence has come as a relief in particular to Carragher, who was left concerned by Mane’s drop in form – and goal return – last season, only two years after he had shared the Golden Boot with Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
He said: “I think the form of Mane for me, or his numbers, have been standout this season. I know Salah has been out of this world, but I was really worried for Mane at times last season, not just because of his goal output, but his general performance.
“It’s really interesting with how well Liverpool are attacking. We can talk about Mo Salah, you look at the goals Sadio Mane is getting, Roberto Firmino got the hat-trick at Watford as well. Myself included, we were really worrying about Liverpool’s front three going forward last season and whether it had come to an end.
“The way the team have started this season, the crowds are back, they have the confidence throughout the team because they have the centre-backs free from long-term injuries so it looks like it’s had a huge effect on the team. Maybe this team has got something left in them when a few of us were writing them off at times last season.”
Follow Man Utd vs Liverpool on Sky Sports
Follow all the build-up to Manchester United vs Liverpool across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including exclusive interviews and expert insight.
Coverage will begin on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 4pm on Super Sunday, following West Ham vs Tottenham; kick-off 4.30pm. David Jones will be joined by Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp in the studio, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on the gantry with Martin Tyler for co-commentary.
You can also follow all the action from Old Trafford across our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including in-game clips and free match highlights shortly after full-time.
Watch all the post-match analysis and interviews on Sky Sports Premier League, plus read the latest features, pundit and manager reaction on SkySports.com and app.