Apex EPL Preview: Liverpool clash threatens more misery for bottom-placed Man Utd, and other things to focus before Matchday 3

The record 20-time EPL champions shipped six goals – 2 vs Brighton, 4 vs Brentford – and sit at the bottom of the table for the first time in 30 years.

In an ideal world, Manchester United would have opened their season with two comfortable victories by brushing aside Brighton and Brentford. A start that would have served as a perfect build-up to the big clash against their most fierce rivals Liverpool. But we are in an era where United, a club that ruled the Premier League for over two decades, is plummeting to new lows every season or for that matter every weekend. What should have been a pair of routine wins against two mid-table clubs turned out to be two damaging and embarrassing defeats.

The record 20-time EPL champions shipped six goals – 2 vs Brighton, 4 vs Brentford – and sit at the bottom of the table for the first time in 30 years. To make matters worse for the Red Devils faithful, neighbours Manchester City are perched at the top.

Their disastrous start to the season on and off the field could still get worse when they face Liverpool on Monday. Always one of the biggest clashes in the English football calendar, Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford has taken on even more importance after a difficult few weeks for both clubs.

Liverpool’s title hopes have already been hit by draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace to leave Jurgen Klopp’s men four points adrift of defending champions Manchester City. However, Liverpool’s woes of an early season injury crisis and the absence of Darwin Nunez due to his ill discipline that cost the Uruguayan a red card on his home debut, pale into insignificance compared to United’s troubles.

Erik ten Hag is off to the worst start of any United manager for over 100 years after a 4-0 humbling at the hands of Brentford followed Brighton’s first ever win at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season.

A large-scale protest by United fans is planned before kick-off aimed at the club’s owners, the Glazer family.

“A fish rots from the head,” said the Manchester United Supporters Trust this week with pressure rising on the Americans to consider selling the club.

Elon Musk joked he was buying the Red Devils this week, while Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe has signalled his interest.

The lack of a coordinated transfer strategy has left Ten Hag to work with largely the same squad that suffered 5-0 and 4-0 thrashings at the hands of Liverpool in their two meetings last season.

Former Man United defender and football pundit Gary Neville slammed the Glazer family for allowing United to “rot” over the last two decades.

Neville, while appearing on The Diary of a CEO podcast, said: “I used to laugh when I went to Anfield and compared it to Old Trafford.

“I’d always think ‘they can never catch up, they’re too far behind’.

“They’re building that second stand now behind the goal where the away fans sit. The main stand now is towering up.

“Anfield will be a more modern ground than Manchester United and Old Trafford in 12 months. That is unforgivable.”

Neville also compared United’s infrastructure with the likes of Man City and Tottenham.

“Manchester City are lightyears ahead on and off the pitch.

“Tottenham have invested £1.3billion in a new stadium that’s out of this world. It’s a museum, it’s the best in the world.

“And if you go to their training ground, it’s an amazing, brilliant facility which is far better than Carrington where we moved to in 2000.

“In 20 years, Manchester United have not invested in the stadium, and they’ve not invested in the training ground that much. It’s a club that’s really struggling.

“And I’ve said in the last couple of years that the only thing I think can change it now is the ownership.

“There is an embedded rot at the club”, he added.

Ten Hag, though, also has questions to ask after pushing for the signing of Lisandro Martinez from his old club Ajax despite the Argentine centre-back’s diminutive frame seemingly being unsuited to the rigours of the Premier League.

Martinez was hauled off at half-time against Brentford with United already trailing 4-0, but Ten Hag conceded afterwards all 11 of his starting line-up could have been replaced.

Brentford players covered 13.8 kilometres more in that match and Ten Hag reportedly responded by cancelling a planned day off to make his squad run that distance the day after defeat last Saturday.

But it is on the pitch he needs a response with Liverpool also wounded for their trip to Manchester.

And here’s all the details for Manchester United’s protest against the Glazers before Liverpool game

Newcastle test for City

City’s transformation into the dominant club in English football over the past decade thanks to the flow of investment from Abu Dhabi appeared the blueprint for Newcastle to follow under the ownership of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

But Newcastle’s first summer transfer window under the new regime has been surprisingly quiet with Nick Pope and Sven Botman the only new faces at St James’ Park.

They have still enjoyed a strong start to the season with four points from their first two games, but City’s visit will give an early indication as to how seriously the Magpies could challenge for a top-four finish.

No money for Rodgers

Leicester are the only Premier League club yet to spend any money in the window and manager Brendan Rodgers is not expecting that to change due to the state of the club’s finances.

“I spent my summer holidays convincing players to come but when I come back the reality of the situation is there and we are unable to follow through with it,” said Rodgers on Thursday.

“I don’t run the finances of the club. I run the football department and if they say we can’t sign a player I trust the club that it’s the case.”

The Foxes long-serving captain Kasper Schmeichel joined Nice earlier this month and more key players could still leave with Wesley Fofana a target for Chelsea, while Newcastle have had bids rejected for James Maddison.

After just one point from their opening two games, Leicester badly need a win when Southampton visit on Saturday to lift the mood around the King Power ahead of a tough run of fixtures that includes trips to Chelsea and Tottenham in their next five games.

Fixtures (all times UTC)

20th Aug. Saturday

Tottenham v Wolves (12:30), Leicester v Southampton, Crystal Palace v Aston Villa, Everton v Nottingham Forest, Fulham v Brentford (all 15:00), Bournemouth v Arsenal (17:30)

21st Aug. Sunday

Leeds v Chelsea, West Ham v Brighton (both 14:00), Newcastle v Manchester City (16:30)

Manchester United v Liverpool (20:00)

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