There needn’t be any extra fanning of flames required for Manchester United when they host Liverpool at Old Trafford this weekend.
Perhaps the most fierce rivalry in the Premier League resumes as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side look to halt their alarming decay, this time against a Liverpool side with a flawless start to the domestic season.
While eight wins from eight might be unrivalled in the division so far, it does not necessarily mean there aren’t flaws for United to capitalise upon.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been the best side in the Premier League this season but in recent weeks cracks have become to emerge in an otherwise well polished outfit.
A goalkeeping howler from Dean Henderson gifted victory against Sheffield United, while a controversial late penalty ‘won’ by Sadio Mane ensured Liverpool entered the international break with maximum points from the first eight games. Take into account the manner in which the Merseyside outfit collapsed against Red Bull Salzburg and you can see why there is a more than a glimmer of hope ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
With the odds stacked against them it seems United have a free hit going into the encounter at Old Trafford, and its this lack of expectancy which could play right into the hands of Marcus Rashford.
The turbulent form of the 21-year-old has all but personified the very nature of United as a whole this season. While there has been genuine moments of quality; Rashford, like his club, has failed for consistency and been unable to live up to the promise of an electric pre-season.
Yet amid the disgusting scenes in Bulgaria earlier this week, it was a moment of pure inspiration from the Wythenshawe winger which inspired England to a comfortable win.
Cutting in from the left wing and unleashing a powerful effort past the keeper was a moment of relief, not only for Rashford, but for fans who had begun to question the true ability of the youngster. Sometimes it is hard to remember just how young he still is.
The fine solo goal was not only a reminder of the talents which Rashford possesses but also a timely return to form ahead of a game which could transform United’s very season.
During international duty Rashford looked at ease as he played as a traditional wide man, hugging the touchline and not endlessly cutting inside with perpetual predictable wing play.
Solskjaer’s injury headache ensures the England international will get minutes this weekend and his ability to get in behind Liverpool’s marauding full backs could be a crucial factor in dictating the entire result of the match.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson will bomb forward at every opportunity meaning it will be down to both Rashford and Daniel James to capitalise on any break which comes their way.
A year and a half ago it was Rashford who made the difference as Jose Mourinho’s side sat back and punished Liverpool on the break with a fine brace to secure a 2-1 win. In fact, 33 per cent of Rashford’s league goals have come against ‘big six’ opponents and the nature of this fixture should play straight into his skillset.
Like his side Rashford has looked a shadow of his former self as of late, but an impressive performance this weekend could be the springboard to transform the immediate future of both.