An age-old clash sees England’s two most famous clubs face off in what is always a must-win game for both sides.
With United gunning for the title and Liverpool aiming to recover from a poor run of form – it could be argued that the International break came at a more favourable time for the home side. Nevertheless, the game is never without entertainment given both sides quality and determination to win.
Last Meeting: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (15th January 2017)
The points were shared the last time the teams met as a late goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic rescued a draw for the home side. Having opened the scoring through a first half Milner penalty, Mignolet put in a man-of-the-match performance to keep United at bay and ensure Liverpool took at least a point.
United were dominant for most of the match, but uncharacteristically for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp’s side were defensively resilient – something that could be needed given the stature of the opposition.
A well-known foe, United have started the season in blistering form and remain undefeated in seven Premier League games. A changing of the guards from our last meeting with United sees Romelu Lukaku replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic – with the Belgian looking lethal so far.
Scoring seven league goals in as many games, Lukaku looks set to more than justify the £75m spent by Jose Mourinho to bring his former player in. The away side will be looking to continue the pressure on Manchester City in the race for the title, currently second on goal difference – with just one goal separating the sides.
Having scored 21 goals and conceding just the two this season, Mourinho has forged United into a true powerhouse of the English game. Physically dominant with Lukaku, Bailly, and Matic, they look to impose themselves on a game early on. Combined with the pace and power of wonderkid Rashford and creativity of Mkhitaryan and Mata, United pose plenty of threats to Liverpool.
The Key Battle: Romelu Lukaku vs Dejan Lovren
The last time this pair faced off, the Croatian centre-back had the better of Lukaku – pocketing him in a 3-1 win versus Everton at Anfield. In the 50th Merseyside derby, Lukaku failed to score against the Reds, continuing his poor record against England’s Top 6.
Gaining a reputation as a flat track bully, Lukaku was quiet the last time he faced Liverpool and will be looking to ditch this reputation. United and Lukaku are yet to face another Top 6 side this season – making Liverpool their greatest test yet. If Lovren can recapture the form that saw him beat Lukaku with ease, then Liverpool will have a good chance at a result in this match.
Sadio Mane misses out after suffering a hamstring injury whilst on International duty with Senegal. The winger is expected to miss up to 6 weeks.
Liverpool still await the return of Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana, who have not been given dates of return just yet. Other than these notable absences, Liverpool should be able to go full-strength against United with everyone returning from the International break unscathed.
As for United, they will be without a few key members – with Paul Pogba, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all recovering from long-term injuries. However, the recent loss of Marouane Fellaini will be a big blow to Mourinho’s options – with the Belgian being crucial so far for United. Scoring four goals in all competitions, since the absence of Pogba, Fellaini has stepped his game up and been a much-needed replacement.
Confirmed Liverpool XI:
Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino
United Predicted Team:
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Matic, Mata, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku; Rashford.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United