Manchester United need to invoke spirit that ended Invincibles' run once more

Next Thursday marks 15 years since Manchester United ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford.

That result came at a time when United were not in the title picture – although admittedly not as far off as they are now – and the Gunners travelled to Old Trafford as favourites.

Sunday’s visitors Liverpool will arrive with designs on extending their Premier League winning run to a record-equalling 18.

So the same spirit that got the win against the Invincibles almost a decade-and-a-half ago is desperately needed once more.

Pressing and aggression


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The worst possible tactic United could employ on Sunday would be sitting back.

Sheffield United and Chelsea created chances at home to Liverpool in recent games with a positive attitude and an intent to counter behind Jurgen Klopp’s flying full-backs.

United have been going into games at walking pace of late, but they need to embrace the passion of the occasion and the speed of their attackers.

That should translate to aggression in the tackle, even if the treatment of Jose Antonio Reyes in that famous win went too far and would result in at least one red card in the modern era.

Take your chances

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A contentious penalty won by Wayne Rooney allowed Ruud van Nistelrooy to open the scoring in 2004.

But United of the present day couldn’t even be trusted to take advantage of a spot-kick, having missed two already this season.

Set-pieces are another area in which United have been wasteful in recent weeks, with Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay missing simple headers against Newcastle and Arsenal.

This Liverpool side has not been watertight on the road this term – they leak chances.

But if United do manage to force them with a front-foot gameplan, they simply have to take them.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.