You have to feel for Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams.

Despite having picked up a combined total of just 120 minutes across a run of four games that saw Liverpool concede three times - one of which went in while neither was on the pitch - those two players seem to have shouldered the majority of the blame for a recent downturn in results.

This feels particularly unfair when you consider that it was Fabinho who was beaten in the air for West Brom's Anfield equaliser, and Trent Alexander-Arnold who switched off as Southampton took the lead at St Mary's.

And, though Williams was partly culpable for the goal scored by a youthful Aston Villa side last week, that game was the only one of the last four that ended in victory for the Reds.

The issues that have recently afflicted Liverpool were instead best underlined in the three fixtures prior to that visit to the Midlands, when a failure to trouble the scoresheet frequently enough contributed to dropped points.

The significant credit in the bank Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are all able to call on means they have largely escaped criticism for that fact.

But, while they are rightly insulated from over-the-top reproach for their performances, that trio at least deserve more scrutiny than Phillips and Williams.

Since contributing five goals to a 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace from a combined xG of just 1.4 in later December, the Reds' front three have largely struggled in front of goal.

Incredibly, the three games that followed that trip to Selhurst Park saw them find the back of the net just once –Mane's well-taken strike against West Brom – from a total xG of 2.9.

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Restoring some trademark fluency to all three players' game has no doubt been the thrust of the 11 v 11 games at Kirkby this week that Jurgen Klopp suggested he would oversee after Villa.

And the manager must hope that any semblance of form he has managed to instil back into his forwards can sustain into a game that hasn't been particularly productive for them in recent years.

Salah has scored just once in his five games against Manchester United, Mane once in nine, and Firmino once across 12 different meetings.

Fortunately for Liverpool, those goals were spread across three different games, each of which they went on to win.

But, incredibly, those are the only three victories the Reds have claimed over their bitter rivals in the 12 games contested since Firmino became the first of their fabled front three to arrive at the club.

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This suggests that, even during their recent fallow periods, United have been able to keep their rivals' biggest attacking threats quiet.

And, coming into this game in a rich vein of form that has taken them to the top of the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will fancy their chances of repeating the trick.

How they fare in that task is likely to have major implications on Sunday's result, and perhaps even a rare title race between England's two biggest clubs.