Liverpool and Man Utd at centre of new Premier League debate

BIG DEBATE: Man Utd are five points ahead of rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table - but who will finish higher when the season comes to an end?

At the start of the season, few could have predictedManchester Unitednot only beatingLiverpoolbut sitting several points clear by early October.

But thats exactly the way things stand after eight games each, with Erik ten Hags revamped side pulling five points and five places clear of their rivals after the weekends fixtures.

Whilst Ten Hags tactical masterplan is clear and is taking shape, Klopps tinkering and changes have left confusion as to when and how Liverpool will stop their rot.

It has sparked debates over who will finish higher in the table this season - a question few even considered worth asking at the start of the campaign.

With the situation now drastically changed, we consulted our writers to answer a simple question - who will finish higher out of Manchester United and Liverpool when thePremier Leagueseason draws to a close?

JOIN THE DEBATE!Who will finish higher this season - Liverpool or Man Utd? Have your say in thecomments section.

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Nobody can say with any certainty but on current form Liverpool look as though they are giving themselves far too much to do. They can and will continue to score goals but Jurgen Klopp has seemingly no answer to their defensive crisis.

You couldnt possibly not play Virgil van Dijk, for example, againstManchester Citynext weekend but he has been as uncharacteristically poor so far as anyone. Liverpools strongest line-up appears to be feeling the fall-out of a tough campaign last season in which they played in every game they possibly could - 63.

Theyve now conceded the first goal in six of their last eight games. They are standing off teams, they lack intensity and they need a rest, mentally and physically. It is, of course, far too early to say with any certainty where any team will finish bar City.

But it really is looking bleak for Liverpool.

Will Man Utd finish above Liverpool this season?

Its been a rocky start to the season for Liverpool but they will still finish in the top four - and that alone will be beyond Manchester United.

Erik ten Hag is working well to get results from a squad in transition and in need of major reinforcements but Liverpools performance atArsenalwould have undoubtedly beaten United.

Jurgen Klopp is trying to rebuild elements of his team and it has been an uncharacteristically disappointing start to the campaign.

The midfield is the glaring problem. They are now trying a different system to make it work amid injuries and not having the right balance in there. But once they get it cracked, the results will come.

Liverpool showed good signs at Arsenal, on another day they would draw or even win that game. They have still only lost three games - one less than United - and turning those draws into wins will see them move up the table.

No, although right now that is probably more to do with United still not completely convincing anyone that they can put together a consistent run. This is a transitional season for Erik ten Hag and his new side and thats fine.

As for Liverpool, history suggests that things will turn sooner rather than later, although it is now a case of just how long Jurgen Klopp persists with a formation that looks bold at best but completely reckless at worst.

At times it was a remarkable sight seeing all four attackers stationed in a line halfway inside the Arsenal half yesterday, with a confident team such as the Gunners able to beat the press and then spring onto two central midfielders who are both the wrong side of 30 and who are being asked to do enormously difficult jobs.

In a funny way the injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz, if they are as serious as Klopp has suggested they are, might force the manager to revert to a more tried and tested system which allows his side to solidify.

Right now they are offering constant encouragement to their opponents, and they wont go anywhere until they stop risking so much for so little reward.

After the opening two games of the season, not many would have suggested that, just six games later, Manchester United would sit five points ahead of Liverpool. And yet, here we are.

Liverpool have won just twice thus far, with Klopps tactical tinkerings - why is Mo Salah so wide and so far from goal? - not quite having the desired effect, while Ten Hags methods are starting to take hold at Old Trafford, with United having won five of their last six league outings.

Bizarrely, owing to Liverpools 9-0 thrashing ofBournemouthand Uniteds heavy losses to Brentford and Manchester City, the Merseysiders have a goal difference of of plus eight while Uniteds is down on -2.

But to be honest, thats neither here nor there at this moment. Liverpool clearly arent anywhere near their best while United are, it appears, beginning an upward trajectory - despite how they were easily beaten at the Etihad. Certainly, the Red Devils have more bumps in the road to navigate.

Klopps side on the other hand, from all we know about them and have seen in recent seasons, will surely click at some point and get it right. Theyre capable of rattling off eight or nine straight wins and changing the landscape of the division.

For that reason, even though theyve been sub-par thus far, theyll still finish above United when the season is all said and done.

There is more than something amiss in the Liverpool camp right now and that is why Manchester United can build an advantage that will be tough for Jurgen Klopps men to overcome.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk look like thoroughbreds gone lame, skipper Jordan Henderson cuts a deeply frustrated figure, Mohamed Salah seems to have signed off when he signed the new contract, Luis Diaz is now injured and Klopp himself is beginning to come across as a touch world-weary.

They won two trophies last season but you cant help wondering if the nature of their failures in the Premier League andChampions Leaguehas had a psychological effect.

Erik ten Hag has United performing decently and with Casemiro surely now an automatic starter, they should easily rack up wins against less affluent clubs.

You would have drawn some looks if you had said it before the start of the season but on the evidence so far, its United to finish ahead of Liverpool.

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No. These remain early days and it would still be a shock to see Liverpool finish below United because their ceiling is higher and their rivals floor is lower.

No matter how bad Klopps team are performing there is a sense that they are still not too far from going on a winning run. Perhaps the World Cup break can benefit Mo Salah and the defence must surely tighten up.

Ten Hags squad, meanwhile, have so much still to prove and theCristiano Ronaldosituation remains unsustainable regardless of last nights appearance off the bench.

Then again, does it really matter when it looks likely that neither will be in the top four and, already, the best they can hope for is getting stuck on the Thursday-Sunday hamster wheel?

Manchester United have already beaten Liverpool once this season in August and are now on course to finish above their bitter rivals from Anfield in the Premier League.

United are gaining momentum under new boss Erik ten Hag after an appalling start with back to back losses.

The Old Trafford club have won five of their last six Premier League games and are in good form ahead of three successive home matches in the League and Europe to make further gains.

Liverpool by contrast have been astonishingly inconsistent this term and even their usually rock solid home form is letting them down.

United have a five point lead over Liverpool already and they look ready to stretch that in the coming weeks.

But both clubs have inviting run-ins in the fixture list so it is possible the rivalry could go right to the end of the season.

Liverpool are in real trouble. Any hopes of a second Premier League title have been extinguished after the defeat to Arsenal and they face a huge battle to finish in the top four.

You would trust Jurgen Klopp will find a way to solve their biggest issues and Darwin Nunez will hope he can use his goal at the Gunners to kickstart his season.

But while the Reds wait for Klopp to work his magic, the door is open for teams above them to pull away. Manchester United have shown they can put a run of wins together and momentum will be key.

But they still have a problem with consistency, which could come back to bite them when Liverpool finally get their act together.

So could they finish above the Reds? Yes, if they can build up a lead. But will they? Im still banking on Liverpool.

Will Manchester United finish above Liverpool, and claim that coveted spot in the Thursday Night League with away trips to Kazakhstan, the North Pole and Smorgasbord Rovers?

It looks like two mighty Red empires, with the two largest followings in the country (and abroad), are going to be fighting over scraps at the dinner table while Manchester City, Arsenal,TottenhamandChelseatuck into the feast.

Based on Liverpools torrid defeats at the Emirates and Old Trafford, not to mention the alarmingly porous 3-3 draw withBrightonand a Champions League horror show in Naples, a great side has reached the end of the line.

They need at least one new centre-back, a dynamic midfield linchpin in the NGolo Kante class and Mo Salah needs to play in the box, not as a winger hugging the touchline.

As for United, until they solve the Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum and - like Liverpool - solve the riddle of absent defensive steel, they will remain in a the hokey-cokey cycle of two steps forward and two steps back.

And heres the real issue: WillNewcastleUnited finish above both of them?

Manchester United can finish above Liverpool because the clubs are going in opposite directions.

Liverpools collapse has been sudden and spectacular and a team that came within two games of the quadruple last season is devoid of confidence.

They are languishing 10th and would be in the unheard of territory of the bottom half of the table were it not for their 9-0 thumping of Bournemouth boosting their goal difference.

Their title bid never happened and now Jurgen Klopps side must somehow rally themselves to finish in the top four.

As Liverpool crumble, United are on the rise and their impressive win atEvertonwas a statement result after their 6-3 drubbing by Manchester City.

Yes, that City defeat showed they are not title-winning material yet, but the signs of progress under Erik ten Hag are clear.

They have a resilience about them, are stronger defensively and are a real threat in attack.

A five point gap at this stage of the season might be big at the top, where dropped points are a rarity, but further down the table it is much easier to overcome.

The biggest difference between Manchester United and Liverpool this season has been an ability to pick up points when not playing especially well. Only one of the two teams has managed it with any regularity, and its not the one managed by Jurgen Klopp.

We can expect both United and Liverpool to improve between now and May, despite Virgil van Dijks comments about his teams confidence. Erik ten Hags United will feel they have more to come from summer signing Casemiro, while Darwin Nunez surely has more to offer at Anfield, but some survivors from last season are also yet to hit top gear.

In the 2020-21 season, when Liverpool were playing without a defence for more than half the campaign, they kept the distance to United to five points. Barring a similar physical collapse, theyre more than capable of reining in their rivals.

Liverpool have no doubt been one of the Premier Leagues underachievers so far this season and havent really got into gear so far with just two victories from their opening eight matches.

However, you dont become a bad team overnight and the Reds will still compete for a top four position, theres no doubt about that. Whether theyll finish above Man Utd is a different question.

Erik ten Hags men are a work in progress but are beginning to click into gear, even if they were hammered at Manchester City. They arent, and wont be the only side to be thrashed at the Etihad this season and the Red Devils 2-1 win over Everton showed they have the metal and the character to bounce back.

Taking all this into consideration, I still believe Liverpool will finish above United this season as they usually finish seasons better than they start them. Last term, they didnt lose a game from December until the end of the campaign and pushed City all the way for the title.

Although they wont be in a title race, I think Liverpool will push the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea strong after the World Cup and finish above Ten Hags side come the end of the season. Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold will eventually click into gear after below par starts, while Darwin Nunez is starting to find his feet and will be a talisman for them when he begins to score regularly.

Looking at both sides and, intriguingly, it is the Red Devils that are more difficult to judge than their Merseyside rivals. Erik ten Hags men are capable of the sumptuous at times, whilst they are equally capable of turning in a thoroughly miserable display - as evidenced by their humiliation at the hands of Brentford.

Meanwhile, apart from their demolition Bournemouth, Liverpool have been consistently underwhelming. It is that severe lack of any ability to string some momentum together that could potentially see them slip even further off the pace and behind United throughout the remainder of the campaign.

With Man City set to come for the Reds this following weekend, the gap between the two sides could grow even further and produce a chasm that Jurgen Klopps men are unable to overcome.

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