How Man Utd can beat Liverpool in Sunday's FA Cup tie

  • Man Utd host Liverpool in FA Cup sixth round on Sunday
  • Red Devils are underdogs heading into tie at Old Trafford
  • Four ways they can outdo Liverpool and reach semi-finals
Man Utd face rivals Liverpool this weekend
Man Utd face rivals Liverpool this weekend / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Manchester United's last hope of winning silverware this season comes in the FA Cup, but they have a pretty tough task on their hands if they are to return to Wembley.

The Red Devils take on bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday to wrap up round six, yet hardly anyone is giving the hosts much of a chance of progressing.

So how do United ensure progression to the semi-finals? How do they stop Liverpool in their tracks and spoil this leg of Jurgen Klopp's farewell tour?

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Manchester United's club badge
Stay up to date with the latest Manchester United news / Visionhaus / Getty Images

Stars need to step up

Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
Rashford and Fernandes need to play well / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

When United were in the ascendancy last season, it had a lot to do with the phenomenal form of Bruno Fernandes and, in particular, Marcus Rashford.

The team's performances have suffered this year and they haven't been able to rely on their star duo to bail them out as much. That's only putting it mildly - Erik ten Hag has failed to find a way to evolve his United side and the goals drying up has been to his and the team's detriment.

But if Rashford and Fernandes play well, then United are likely to play well. It's a simple formula, but one the Red Devils have found hard to perfect this term.

Attack the space

Alejandro Garnacho
Garnacho will have room to run into / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Liverpool will always leave space open for the opposition to get into, it's just about whether their foes have the composure and technique to make the most of it.

Judging by their form this season (and the glorious chances wasted in a 0-0 draw at Anfield in December), United will likely lack in both of these areas, but there is at least a roadmap for them to follow.

In Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho, United possess two of the quickest and most dangerous threats in transition in all of English football. It was, famously or infamously, Ten Hag's wish to make United the best transitional team around. Now's the chance to prove that dream can still be realised.

A tactical tweak to silence Mohamed Salah?

Mohamed Salah
Salah is fit again / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Whisper it quietly so United fans don't panic too much, but Mohamed Salah has looked razor sharp since returning from injury.

He loves a goal against United, he loves a goal at Old Trafford. How should Ten Hag deal with this, then?

Hear me out - move Diogo Dalot over to left-back. Get United's strongest defensive full-back covering Salah on his favoured side. You might not muzzle him but you can at least slow him down.

The perfect defensive game

Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay
Liverpool can't be afforded too many bites at the cherry / Michael Regan/GettyImages

When you're a side as incompetent as this iteration of United, you're going to need a bit of luck in order to win.

That's barely a slight. Chelsea played well at Manchester City last month and were good value for a draw, but they needed some luck too. United, in their most recent visit to Anfield, were similarly great in their own defensive third, but still needed the fortune of Liverpool losing their heads a little. That's football.

United's best chance of progressing to the last four of the FA Cup is if they out-defend Liverpool. It's not realistic to expect them to go all guns blazing and win 4-3 or some other ridiculous scoreline. The fewer goals are scored on the day, the better United's chances are of cup glory later this season.