Since Manchester United sacked Jose Mourinho and brought in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Red Devils had gone 11 games unbeaten until losing to Paris Saint-Germain this week. Jürgen Klopp has no doubt been keeping an eye on United’s progress and new style of play under Solskjaer and the Liverpool manager will be assessing the tactical battle ahead of Sunday’s match at the Thunderdome.
PSG won the match in the second half with a dominant performance and two well-taken goals. But Klopp isn’t looking at PSG for the answer to defeating United.
Solskjaer was forced into two changes just before and during halftime that significantly changed the game. Both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were replaced up top and PSG took advantage of the interruption to United’s game plan.
When Klopp was asked if Thomas Tuchel’s plan for PSG’s victory could be viewed as a blueprint for beating United, the manager shook his head slyly and showed everyone the new “win” button on his manager controller.
“Result-wise, it was the only team,” said Klopp of PSG’s win, “but Tottenham played a pretty good game against United, to be honest.
“What is a blueprint? They were pretty cool with the ball, they passed a lot, they were really confident, good positioning, passing between the lines, and scoring in the right moment.
“You saw against Chelsea that United can play very, very well without Lingard and Martial because that was a proper line-up with Mata and Lukaku. But in the game when you have to change it, that changes much more, you cannot really adapt.
“They played the last five or six games before that with the same line-up and then you have to change like this in 15 minutes. That obviously didn’t work out and PSG used that.
“It was a bit of luck for PSG but they played a really good game, very demanding and looked in charge in most of the situations, they didn’t give a lot of counter-attacks away, which is a massive thing to do against United because whichever line-up they have, how they attack with whoever it is, will be quick on the offensive wings.
“From time to time they leave a player up, or two. You need to be 100 per cent concentrated.”
United shouldn’t be viewed as starting a downswing just because of their recent defeat. Solskjaer has sprinkled a bit of magic dust on his team since taking the caretaker position and it remains to be seen how long its powers last.
Klopp and his coaching staff will have been compiling the information they need from multiple games, including the PSG loss, in order to suss out Solskjaer’s weaknesses. But mostly, Liverpool will be training these last few days to overwhelm United as much as possible with pressing and organized, attacking chaos.
The way for Liverpool to beat United and return to the top of the Premier League table is to play football. In spite of whatever positive things Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing, Liverpool can make another incredible statement of supremacy in the league with a dominant, attacking display to quiet the Old Trafford faithful.