Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp await a titanic top-of-the-table encounter at Anfield on Sunday as Manchester United prepare to roll into town. Remarkably, it will it is the first time the Reds are due to go head-to-head with Bruno Fernandes.
In terms of transformative signings, the Portuguese international has had the biggest impact on the Premier League since Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool in January 2018.
With that said, keeping him at bay will prove no easy feat. There is no question that since his £47 million [BBC] acquisition from Sporting Lisbon, he has almost single-handedly turned around United’s fortunes on the pitch.
Credit where it is due
In 48 appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Fernandes has clocked up a whopping 27 goals and 17 assists. Only Mohamed Salah has been able to boast similar numbers in that time.
As a result, the 23-capped Portugal international will certainly be the man Liverpool look to contain when their bitter rivals visit Anfield on Sunday.
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His influence on United speaks volumes. The Red Devils have won 11 of the 13 matches in which Fernandes, 26, has set up a goal. So, it’s clear to see that when he is on form, United tend to perform well.
Stopping him, then, will be one of Jurgen Klopp’s bigger priorities this weekend.
In terms of chances created per game, only Kevin de Bruyne and Jack Grealish have performed better than Fernandes this season, as per WhoScored.
United’s No.18 has built a finely-tuned understanding with forward counterpart Marcus Rashford, too. Four of Fernandes’ seven league assists have been for the England international this season, after all.
Containing the threat
With that said, Liverpool’s focus, then, shouldn’t solely be focused on Fernandes. The likes of Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba can also cause problems, too.
Still, United’s main threat is undoubtedly carried by Fernandes. Since his arrival just under 12 months ago, United have obtained more points in the Premier League than any other team.
How Liverpool look to stop him remains to be seen. Both the Reds and Fernandes are still yet to lock horns in a competitive fixture, after all.
As a result, if Klopp can nullify the threat of Fernandes on Sunday, then it can go a long way to getting an all-important win to reignite Liverpool’s title defence.