Unleash Marcus Rashford, support Bruno Fernandes and tame The Kop - Six ways Erik ten Hag can end Man Utd's Anfield hoodoo

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GOAL assesses how Erik ten Hag can end United's seven-year wait for victory at the home of their greatest rivals

Louis van Gaal was the last Manchester United manager to win at Anfield. The Dutchman's two-year spell in charge of the Red Devils was often exceedingly dull - at least on the pitch - but he was very good at beating Liverpool.

Since Van Gaal left in 2016, none of Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Ralf Rangnick have been able to leave enemy territory with three points, and they were all on the end of a painful defeat.

But Erik ten Hag could not be in a better position to end United's long wait for a win at the home of their greatest rivals.

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Since losing to Aston Villa in November, United have been on a run of 18 wins in 22 matches and arrive at Anfield with the Carabao Cup - their first major trophy in six years - tucked under their arm. They have also recently staged stirring comebacks against West Ham United and Barcelona to stay on course for yet more silverware.

And unlike Ten Hag's predecessors, who came up against Liverpool in ferocious form, United head to Anfield when Jurgen Klopp's side are in the midst of a downward spiral.

GOAL takes a look at what Ten Hag needs to do to ensure his side get the job done on Sunday...

  1. Unleash Rashford on Alexander-Arnold

    Unleash Rashford on Alexander-Arnold

    Whether he plays on the left or the right or through the middle, there is a good chance Marcus Rashford will run you ragged.

    In the last two weeks he has managed to score against the best defence in England and Spain, doing Newcastle damage from the left at Wembley and Barcelona from the right at Camp Nou.

    But it is clear where Liverpool's weakness lies, and that is down the left wing, attacking Trent Alexander-Arnold.

    Klopp has laughed off suggestions that his right-back can't defend, but even the player himself has admitted he has underperformed this season.

    Alexander-Arnold has endured nightmare displays against Arsenal, Brighton and most recently Real Madrid, even though he was not helped by a hapless Joe Gomez on that night, when Vinicius Jr, playing as the left forward, filled his boots.

    Alexander-Arnold has enjoyed better support from Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip in his last two games, but Rashford is the most in-form striker in Europe right now - with 17 goals in his last 20 matches - and if he can isolate his England team-mate then United will have a great chance of scoring.

  2. Keep Fernandes central and give him support

    Keep Fernandes central and give him support

    Bruno Fernandes is routinely United's best player and their most frustrating. He joins the dots in midfield and makes the attack tick with his delicate forward passes.

    But so often he tries to do everything on his own and takes on too much responsibility, leading to him getting highly annoyed, either with himself or his team-mates.

    This was especially true against Newcastle in the latter stages of the Carabao Cup final, when he looked determined to score a goal for himself rather than tee up his team-mates.

    Fernandes is most threatening when he plays through the middle and has options to hit, either from deep or further forward, and it is when he drifts out wide that he can be most easily tamed.

    At the infamously tight surroundings of Anfield, United need to make sure their 'Portuguese Magnifico' has options in front of him.

  3. Seize the moment away from home
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    Seize the moment away from home

    No-one can deny that United's results this season have been outstanding, but one can point out that their form at Old Trafford has been doing a lot of heavy lifting. They have won 20 out of 24 home games this season, compared to 10 out of 17 away matches.

    It is normal for any side not to be as strong on their travels, yet considering how good they have been this season, they are lacking a statement away win against a top side.

    United lost to Arsenal after taking the lead at the Emirates Stadium and drew 2-2 at Barcelona after also going in front, while they were outplayed in away defeats to Manchester City and Aston Villa.

    They could only salvage a point away to an out-of-sorts Chelsea thanks to an injury time equaliser from Casemiro.

    There's no better place than Anfield for the team to grab their first significant away win.

  4. Tame the wall of noise

    Tame the wall of noise

    Even with Liverpool in the difficult situation they find themselves in, it is never easy to win at Anfield, as United often found even in years when they would win the title.

    The best of players can wilt in the pressure and amid the noise.

    As Jamie Carragher wrote in his book The Greatest Games: "If the level between the two sides is vast and the crowd is not up for it, the famed Anfield atmosphere can be neutralised. But when the skill level is equal or not so big and the Kop brings it's A game, the environment undoubtedly affects outcomes."

    So it is a good thing Ten Hag has prepared his players for what awaits them.

    "It will be hostile against us, and we like it," the manager said.

    He also has players who relish intimidating atmospheres, such as Casemiro, who has played in countless Clasicos, and Lisandro Martinez, who cut his teeth in the scorching cauldrons of Argentina.

    Bruno Fernandes recently spoke of the impact a fierce tackle from Martinez had in the 2-1 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford. If the World Cup winner can set the tone in a similar fashion at Anfield, United will be off to a good start.

  5. Continue using his substitutions wisely

    Continue using his substitutions wisely

    United's manager has been adept with his substitutions and, unlike Ferguson and Solskjaer, is never afraid to make an early change.

    In his last three matches alone he made changes at half-time, hooking Wout Weghorst for Antony against Barcelona, Diogo Dalot for Aaron Wan-Bissaka against Newcastle and Scott McTominay for Casemiro against West Ham.

    Even early in the season against Liverpool, he took off Anthony Elanga for Anthony Martial, and the Frenchman swiftly set up Rashford for the crucial second goal.

    Alejandro Garnacho is a particularly productive substitute, scoring both his Premier League goals from the bench, while Jadon Sancho is another player who can be highly effective coming on against a tired opponent.

  6. Make sure Casemiro keeps his head
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    Make sure Casemiro keeps his head

    Casemiro has been United's most influential player this season along with Rashford and is arguably even more pivotal than the forward.

    Just look at what has happened in matches he did not play in: the 6-3 drubbing at Manchester City, the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal, the 2-2 draw at home to Leeds and the first two games of the season against Brighton and Brentford.

    That is why it is crucial he does not allow himself to get wound up when tensions inevitably boil over at some point in the game.

    While referees in Spain were very lenient with the midfielder, officials in England are watching out for him, as his sending off against Crystal Palace showed.

    If United are to get their first win at Anfield in seven years they need 11 men on the pitch for 90 minutes, especially their Brazilian linchpin.