Liverpool and Manchester United fans are optimistic about their team's title hopes
Liverpool returned to Premier League action last week following the international matches and got a point from their Merseyside derby against Everton during which their talismanic Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. In midweek, a team selected by Anfield’s medical staff faced Ajax in Amsterdam and allowed the Dutch side to score an own goal to return home unscathed with a 1-0 victory.
WATCH: Wijnaldum blasts Pickford for 'stupid' challenge on Van Dijk
Manchester United, meanwhile, destroyed Newcastle 4-1 at St James’ Park and beat last year’s runners-up in the Champions League Paris St Germain 2-1 in the French capital with a side that did not include Harry Maguire.
How do Liverpool and Manchester United fans feel now about their team’s chances in the Premier League?
Liverpool fan Yingying Seah, who goes by the name Yingying Henderson on social media, is a little worried.
“We have only two senior centre-halves in Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, and Gomez is even younger than I am, gosh! That pairing obviously doesn’t inspire the same confidence as when Virgil van Dijk is part of it,” she says.
Her reaction when van Dijk got injured: “Mainly incoherent cussing. I was seriously gutted because ACL injuries are the worst and you hear stories of some players not being the same after coming back from that. I’m trying not to be too pessimistic but after a decade of nothing going right for Liverpool (prior to 2018), can you blame me for being insecure?” explains the girl who became a Liverpool fan in 2008.
“I watched football on and off as a neutral, and a lot of people around me supported Manchester United because it was the Fergie (Alex Ferguson) era with plenty of success. But I never felt the same pull and emotions as when I watched Liverpool! I can’t really explain it, it’s like you can’t choose who you fall in love with,” she says, laughing. But her concern for Liverpool is real.
“We have a crowded fixture list till January and I hope we’ll shore up our defence in that transfer window, though I don’t know who can be a good replacement for van Dijk, with the same leadership qualities and confidence on the ball.”
She didn’t watch Liverpool play against Ajax but is happy to have heard good things about Fabinho taking over the role of Van Dijk as a centre-back.
WATCH: Klopp has faith in Fabinho's ability to play centre-back
The business development manager at Singapore Premier League side Lion City Sailor’s Football Academy whose work is to grow the student base, in particular the younger age groups with the vision of becoming a hub of elite youth development. says she is as worried as any Liverpool fan about her team’s chances of retaining the English Premier League title this season.
“I think I share the same sentiments as most Liverpool fans; not as confident knowing we’re losing van Dijk for the rest of the season. We all know that he and Alisson brought the team to a whole other level and were integral in us winning all that silverware in 2019-20.
“That said, in (Jurgen) Klopp we trust! Hope he snags a good centre-back in January, or gets creative with formations to utilise the players we have. Let’s all pray for Alisson’s good health till the end of the season, too, or until 2030,” adds Yingying.
Does she think that Liverpool’s rivals Manchester United could mount a serious title challenge this season?
She says she’d rather not comment on other teams, but believes that United aren’t title challengers yet.
“Given how quiet the obnoxious United fans are, I don’t think they’re title challengers just yet. I would definitely have heard it by now if they were,” she says dismissively.
Clement Gomez, who became a Liverpool fan long before Yingying and the entire Liverpool squad was born, is not worried for his side despite Van Dijk’s long-term medical leave.
“No, I’m not that worried because Klopp bought the required back-up and we have utility players like James Milner, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho,” says Clement, who had an Irish neighbour who supported Liverpool when he was growing up.
“He would call me over to listen to the BBC broadcast of the live games over the radio and tell me stories about Bill Shankly and what being in the Kop end was like. I was sold when Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence were signed,” says Gomez, who is approaching 50.
He remains confident that Liverpool will retain the title.
“Yes. I am very confident that they will be there or thereabouts. I’m sad that we have to lose the best player in the world in his position, but I guess the presence of Fabinho has allayed those fears,” he says.
He doesn’t believe that Manchester United will be among the teams to pose a threat, though.
“I think United have some way to go but they’d definitely finish in the Top Four,” he says magnanimously.
United fan Kris Anna Mathana is upbeat about her team following their last two matches. The big sister of Singapore drag queen comedian Kumar says: “The win was definitely a confidence booster. I feel Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a good idea of who the performers are by now and should make these lads his starting 11. The United team was fantastic against Paris St Germain.”
And she believes Manchester United are good enough to become Premier League champions this season.
“Of course, we have always been a title contender,” she says confidently. “We have about a 70 per cent chance, if we remain injury-free. Solskjaer has to stop experimenting with the squad and give the players who yield results a permanent position.”
She feels, too, that Harry Maguire’s captain’s armband should be handed over to Bruno Fernandes, who captained United against Paris St-Germain.
WATCH: Bruno Fernandes reacts to being named captain for Manchester United's clash against PSG
“Bruno is definitely a better captain,” says Kris. She is also confident that United will defeat Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday morning (SGT).
“I have a good feeling about this match with renewed morale and confidence. I’m going for a 2-1 score. Glory, glory Man United!”
What does she feel of Liverpool’s chances, with Van Dijk’s injury?
“Liverpool have a number of great players like Mo Salah, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino. I believe these guys will go all out once again. Klopp is a great one, too,” she concedes with a generosity that makes me wonder which universe I’m in. But then I’ve been wondering which universe I’m in a lot this season, with the series of strange results week in and out.
United fan Wayne Garfield Wang will bring me back to earth.
“Ole has to be firm enough to stop accommodating lazy players like Paul Pogba and Maguire,” he says. “It was an awesome lineup in the match against Paris St Germain in the Champions League and this could very well be our first team in the Premier League, too.”
And he believes Manchester United would be able to challenge for the title.
“It has been ages since we held any silverware and the last Champions League trophy we won was way back in 2008. It is not going to be easy, though, but I believe in Manchester United.”
Wayne hopes that United’s new signing Edinson Cavani would get his first start against Chelsea over the weekend.
WATCH: Cavani training in Manchester United colours
“The last time we played against Chelsea was the 3-1 loss in the FA Cup. Ole needs to plan carefully, and I predict a 4-2 win for United. That would be possible if Cavani is ready and still as deadly as ever, and with the support of Bruno and Alex Telles,” says Wayne.
And how does he feel about United’s rivals, Liverpool’s title hopes?
“Never heard of that club,” he says.