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Colin from The Busby Babe stops by for a lovely chat

To get a feel about how the opposition feels ahead of the big match between Liverpool and Manchester United, I asked Colin Damms from The Busby Babe blog a few questions.

The Liverpool Offside: Manchester United are in first place this late in the season for the first time since Fergie retired. How’s that feel?

The Busby Babe: It feels good, but that comes with its own anxieties that I haven’t felt since then either. I’m nervous that it’ll collapse any moment, just because we haven’t maintained any sort of positive team building progress since Sir Alex, but it’s exciting being in that position again. More than anything I’ve missed games mattering as much as the hype for Sunday would indicate, and actually expecting United to be able to perform at a high level in games that matter. Hoping it can turn into a title race, but they need to start winning big games like this too.

TLO: What’s been the key to United’s away form this season?

TBB: I think the absence of fans has made road games less difficult, and certainly seems to have affected our home form earlier in the season. The team has also played really well in the second half of games, and I think they kind of tapped into their early road wins as a source of momentum when things seemed to be collapsing after the Champions League exit.

TLO: How will United line up on Sunday and how are you expecting the game to go?

TBB: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred, Bruno, Pogba; Rashford, Martial

Really have no clue what Ole is thinking for this one, but he does seem to like the Diamond a bit. Cavani also played the full game at Burnley, and I’m not sure starting him more than once a week is a good idea with his recent injury history.

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Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Liverpool welcome historic rivals Manchester United to Anfield knowing that a victory would put them back on top of the Premier League table on goal difference but anything less means United end matchweek 18 as league leaders. Stick with The Liverpool Offside for full coverage of Sunday’s match.

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Ahead of Sunday’s match with MFM FC Rangers international star, Ernest Governor said they ready to fight for another maximum point.

 

Rangers have already beaten Jigawa Golden Stars in their own backyard and a win over MFM in Agege means they will become the first team to win two consecutive matches on the road this team.

 

Speaking ahead of the game, Governor said they are in Lagos for maximum points and also to prove the win over Jigawa Golden Stars at Ahmadu Bello Stadium is not a fluke.

 

“We are here to win and by the grace of God, we will. In our last game, we tried our best to win.”

 

 

“Right not we have some fatigue due to the journey to Lagos, but we already won in Kaduna, but we will try our best to win again today.” He said

 

 

The Super Sunday match will kick-off at 4 pm Nigeria time at the Soccer Temple in Agege.

 

 

 

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Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong put in a great shift for Watford in their 2-0 against Huddersfield town on Saturday.

 

Ekong played all 90 minutes as Watford bounced back to winning ways in the English Sky Bet Championship at the Vicarage Road.

 

The Super Eagles defender finished the game with 50% duel won, 62 touches, 1 Interception, and completed 76% of his passes.

 

The former Udinese defender was given 7.76 ratings for his performance for Watford in the game.

 

Ekong who joined the Hornets from Udinese back in July is revealed via his social media handle that he’s happy with the outcome of the match.

 

The 27-year-old also praised his teammate, Daniel Bachmann who made his debut for the team.

 

“+3 Well done boys, good start of the week! Bring on Tuesday!, Congrats Daniel Bachmann. on your league debut” he wrote.

 

The result left Watford in 5th place on the log with 40 points from 23 matches, they remain 10 points behind leaders Norwich City, although they have a game in hand.

 

 

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Nigerian forward, Sadiq Umar, continued his impressive run of form for Almeria as he scored a brace in their 5-0 over Alaves in the Copa Del Rey match on Saturday.

 

The former AS Roma striker scored the goals in the 8th and 40th minute of the game.

 

The brace takes his tally for the campaign to nine in eleven matches, Almeria, since joining from Serbian side Partizan Belgrade.

 

It would be recalled that the 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist also scored a hat trick for the club against Ponferradina last week.

 

Ager Aketxe and Juan Villar (pen.) scored the other goals for Almeria, while Alaves defender Rodrigo Andres Battaglia scored an own goal.

 

Almeria is now through to the next round of the competition.

 

 

 

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Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi was impressive in Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 win over Cape Town City in South African DSTV Premiership clash at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

 

Akpeyi enjoyed a good outing and saved the team countless times on a day they recorded the third victory of the season.

 

The former Chupa United goalkeeper made a total of six saves in the match to protect his side’s slim advantage in the match.

 

He made the first save in the eleventh minutes from Bradley Ralanu’s shot, before denying Thabo Nodada moments later.

 

Nkonsingiphile Ngcobo and Happy Mashiane scored both goals for glamour Boys in the 7th and 19th minutes respectively.

 

Akpeyi was finally beaten by Fagrie Lakay in the 83rd minutes, but he denied Bradley Surprise Ralani a golden opportunity to score an equalizer minutes later.

 

The Nigerian goalkeeper ensured a spirited team display by Gavin Hunt’s Army would take them to 8th on the log with a couple of saves in the second half.

 

 

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Turkish giants Fenerbahce have reached an agreement to sign winger Bright Osayi-Samuel from Queens Park Rangers.

 

Osayi-Samuel will join the club at the end of the season on a four-year contract, Fenerbahce announced via their Twitter handle on Saturday.

 

“Our club has reached an agreement with Bright Osayi-Samuel, a 23-year-old winger wearing the Queens Park Rangers jersey, for 4 seasons, starting from the 2021-2022 season.

 

“Details about the transfer will be announced in the coming days,” reads the statement.” the club said.

 

The deal is a breakthrough for a 23-year-old who has been seeking a move away from Loftus Road for some months.

 

The Edo state born English winger who is still eligible to play for Nigeria was close to joining Belgian Jupiler league side Club Brugge last summer after rejecting a new deal.

 

The winger will now be part of Fenerbahce’s new-look attack with Arsenal’s midfielder Mesut Ozil also set to join the club in the coming days.

 

 

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Super Falcons forward Rasheedat Ajibade says she is delighted to win her first-ever professional career silverware.

 

Ajibade’s club Athletico Madrid Femino defeated US Levante 3 – 0 in the final of the 2021 Spanish Supercopa title on Saturday.

 

The former FC Robo Queens player only signed for the club on the 1st of January 2021 after leaving the Norwegian side, Avaldsnes IL.

 

“Supercopa Champions!!!! @AtletiFemenino, First trophy of my professional career All glory to God ” she wrote on her Twitter handle.

 

Ajibade only saw action for eight-minute as she replaced two goals hero Ajara Nchout in the 82nd minutes.

 

Athletico raced to a three goals lead in the first half with Spanish midfielder Deyna Castellanos opening the scoring in the 18th minute.

 

Ajara Nchout added the other two goals in the 22nd and 32nd minutes respectively.

 

 

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Liverpool Training Session
Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Injuries have kept him from playing at Anfield

Not often do we talk about a player signed in one transfer window making his home debut in another transfer window, but that’s the case with Thiago Alcântara. The midfield hasn’t played at Anfield yet because of a run on the treatment table. That could change on Sunday when Liverpool face Manchester United. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was asked about Thiago on Friday in his press conference and this is what he had to say.

“We will see,” Klopp said. “The most important thing is he’s fit, trained, all good. He had now 90 and 45 minutes in the last two games. So, we will see if he can play, which position he will play because there are obviously different options and all that stuff.

“But it’s really good to have him around now because he’s a really good guy and obviously an exceptional football player. It’s like a new signing obviously.

“Now he’s here and let’s hope that it will stay like this for a long, long, long time.”

Give the injuries that Liverpool have elsewhere on the pitch, Thiago would make a huge difference.

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Liverpool FC v Manchester United - Premier League
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It’s a top of the table clash when Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.


LIVERPOOL VS. MANCHESTER UNITED

| Sunday, January 17th |Premier League | Anfield4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST

It feels like it’s been a very long time since we all got to watch Liverpool play football. It’s been even longer since we’ve been through a game against Manchester United. But on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will arrive at Anfield sitting above Liverpool at the top of the table.

Liverpool have had a poor run of recent form thanks to several key injuries, particularly in the defense. A loss against Southampton in the league was a blow that cost them their hold on the top spot. However, the Reds rarely lose twice in a row, and they’ll understand how much of a morale-booster it would be to break their winless streak against their bitter rivals.

Jürgen Klopp has not ruled out Joel Matip to play alongside Fabinho in the heart of the defense. However, it remains to be seen if Matip really is fit to play a whole game, or if we’ll see another game with Rhys Williams in the line up.

Whoever does earn the right to start with face a tough test against Manchester United’s in form players like Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.

Good news on the horizon for Liverpool, however, is that Thiago Alcantara should slide right into the midfield for his Anfield debut, which will be a huge injection of talent into a side that has been waning in the last month or so.

This game will be Klopp’s 200th match in charge of the team, and he’ll want to cap off that milestone with a win.


Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané


Gonna be conservative about the odds of Matip starting, but I’d love to be wrong. If anything, he’ll may be on the bench. Diogo Jota, Kostas Tsimikas, Joe Gomez, and Virgil van Dijk are all long term absences. Naby Keita will sit this one out as a precaution. I know I should be used to seeing all of those names on the injury list, but it’s still daunting looking at it written out like that.

For Man United, Anthony Martial is looking at a late fitness test to determine if he can play. Brandon Williams, Phil Jones, and Victor Lindelof are all missing from the defense.


What the Managers Had to Say

Jürgen Klopp: “But it’s an open game – it was always an open game. Very often when we played United with different managers we had to be dominant in the games, especially when Jose was there. Now with Ole, we will see exactly. Usually they change systems against us and played now I think 10 times or so with four in the back. Against us, PSG and Leipzig and so on, they still played with five in the back. Maybe they will change.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “I think football and the results in general have sown how important the fans are. We have not lost away in the league since Anfield last year – that is a lot to the fans not being there. It is not home or away advantage. Compared to normal it is a bit of an advantage, it is not just a cliche that you need your supporters.”


The Officials

Referee: Paul Tierney. Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis. Fourth official: Craig Pawson. VAR: Stuart Attwell. Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt.

Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.

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