It’s a huge match up between two of the heavyweight clubs in English football. After a week where both teams struggled to get over the line (in the Champions League), this contest promises be an interesting match up between two teams, that will be hoping for silverware this year.
Manchester United will be looking to regain momentum in the league, after a crushing 4-2 defeat at Leicester last weekend. The midweek victory over Atalanta showed character, but there are clearly on going issues within Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjær will need a positive performance this Sunday, or further questions of his adequacy, could well force the owners hand. Another loss would all but end United’s title hopes, even so early in the season, so this weekend may just be the biggest of Ole’s managerial career.
Some areas of home line up are difficult to predict. David De Gea will start in goal, the defence will no doubt remain, but only Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo appear to have their places assured in the final third. A Fred and Scott McTominay midfield is likely, with Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho all vying for the wide roles. United are stuttering, and the system is too inconsistent to assume a best starting eleven. Even though Ole should probably look to play it conservatively, he may well be forced to go on the offensive, with his job very much in the balance.
Jürgen Klopp will be arriving with an undefeated side, and looking to inflict more misery on Liverpool’s great rivals. There will be no changes in either defence or attack (given the reasonable rest since Atletico Madrid), however the midfield should see rotation incorporated. Fabinho will almost certainly return to screen the rear guard, and Klopp will then have to decide on the two midfielders deployed on either side. Jordan Henderson and James Milner may struggle to play three games in a week, therefore Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be vying to start. Naby Keita had his minutes managed in midweek, therefore should start given his good form this season.
Ole has both personnel and tactical decisions to make this weekend, and despite his home advantage, he will surely not look to make the game an open one. United have talented individuals that can create moments and great success, but in Liverpool they will be facing a team that remains ruthlessly efficient this season.
Liverpool will want to take the early initiative, and counter-press the home side into uncertainty. The reds front three are all in the goals this term, and Klopp will be hoping they can overcome a fragile United backline. Anything can happen in these games, and form is not always an indication of how the game will unravel. Liverpool will have to play well, and if they do, they will be likely winners. For Ole, it’s a must win, or at least a must not lose occasion. He will most certainly need to galvanise his shaky defence if they are to live with Mohamed Salah, who will be looking to add to his amazing season tally.
Player to watch – Mohamed Salah
Manchester United 0 – 2 Liverpool