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Talking Tactics

Versatile Rashford adds to Man Utd threat at Anfield

Adrian Clarke 14 Jan 2021
Marcus Rashford

Adrian Clarke on why forward's away form is key to leaders' hopes of rare win at Liverpool

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 19.

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Manchester United will feel they can travel to Liverpool with more attacking intent than in recent seasons.

They have failed to score in three of the last four matches at Anfield, but have been in scintillating away form in 2020/21.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have taken 22 points from a possible 24 and have scored an incredible 22 goals in their eight away matches, their best such return in Premier League history.

Only Manchester City, in 2011/12, have bettered that tally.

Best away starts to a season
Season Team Matches Goals
2011/12 Man City 8 25
2019/20 Man City 8 22
2020/21 Man Utd 8 22

Against a Liverpool team who have not been at their best recently, I would expect United to commit numbers in forward areas.

They have the firepower to trouble Jurgen Klopp’s depleted defence.

Rashford's away form

All eyes will be on Bruno Fernandes, but Liverpool must not ignore Marcus Rashford, who has been excellent away from home.

Rashford has produced a direct goal involvement in every away match so far. 

Top away performers
Goals (exc penalties) Assists
Son 8 Kane 6
Bamford 7 Rashford  5
Rashford/ Calvert-Lewin 6 Fernandes 5
Shots Touches in opp box
Bamford 30 Mane 63
Kane 21 Sterling 59
Rashford/Fernandes 20 Rashford/ Grealish 58

He has scored six times, an average of one every 111 minutes, and has provided five assists with telling contributions at key moments.

Of his seven Premier League goals this term, only one has come at Old Trafford.

Where will Rashford play?

Despite a quiet night on the right at Burnley, Rashford still managed to provide the assist for Paul Pogba's winner, showing his all-round threat.

Rashford assist for Pogba at Burnley

He starred as a central striker in a 4-1 win at Newcastle United earlier in the campaign, scoring once and making two goals.

The rest of his direct goal involvements on the road have been from a more familiar left-sided role.

But Rashford's versatility provides Solskjaer with more options and makes it difficult for Klopp to know where he will play.

Counters will be key

Liverpool's high line has been vulnerable this season to counter-attacks, one of Man Utd's obvious strengths.

Rashford is especially dynamic on quick transitions, scoring against Sheffield United, West Ham United, Newcastle and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson will need to be careful not to leave space for Rashford to sprint in behind them.

It will be a game of cat-and-mouse.

They will try to push Rashford into his own half, but Solskjaer will not want the 23-year-old to become an auxiliary full-back.

If Rashford continues his current away form, United have a chance for a first win at Liverpool since January 2016.

Also in this series

Part 1: Leeds must be alert to aerial threat of Dunk
Part 2: Fulham trio can inspire rare win over Chelsea
Part 4: Newcastle relying on Wilson for cutting edge at Arsenal

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