With one of the games of the season – ‘the Red Derby’ taking place this weekend Sport360 has run the rule over the two likely line ups and chose their combined XI.
With players injured for both sides we have only considered those players like to play at Anfield.
STRIKER – Robert Firmino v Romelu Lukaku: this isn’t a true contest as Firmino is not an out an out striker but it has to be the United man – Lukaku.
He is in absolutely devastating form this season scoring in his last nine games with seven in the Premier League. Odds on he will score at Anfield as well.
LEFT MIDFIELD – Philippe Coutinho v Marcus Rashford: Rashford has been impressive this season but you have to go for Coutinho.
His ability to score the big goal in the pressure moment makes him truly world class and as talented as the young English man is, even the most ardent Man Utd fan would opt for Phil.
RIGHT MIDFIELD – Mohamed Salah v Juan Mata: Salah has looked right at home for the Reds this season and of course scored a crucial goal for Egypt over the international break but Mata always does well against Liverpool.
Salah also has a habit of missing some very good chances, although he converts some as well.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Georginio Wijnaldum v Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Gini had some good moments last season but he has not re-produced them regularly this term, while Mkhitaryan has been a consistent provider for the United goal scorers with five assists, only one behind the leader in the PL – David Silva of City.
HOLDING MIDFIELD – Emre Can v Nemanja Matic: What is so frustrating for Liverpool fans is they know how good Emre Can can be.
On his good days he is like a lion, prowling around the midfield mauling anyone who dares to oppose him. But on his bad days he becomes as meek as a mouse, tip toeing around like the grass is razor blades, scared to get a toe in.
It’s impossible to know which Can will turn up which days, and he suddenly switches mid-match as in the Europa League final two seasons ago. But against Matic it is usually the latter Can who surfaces.
VERDICT: No contest, Matic.
HOLDING MIDFIELD – Jordan Henderson v Ander Herrera: (To the tune of Mrs Robinson) “Here’s to you Jordan Henderson, Brendan loves you more than you will know oh oh oh.”
The sometime England and Liverpool captain is a very nice young man – and I should know, I met him – but Liverpool fans just wish he was a better player.
Always tries his heart out but more often than not, especially in the big games, it isn’t enough.
Herrera is becoming more and more confident, solid defending and dangerous going forward – so it has to be the Spaniard.
VERDICT: A close one but Herrera.
LEFT BACK – Alberto Moreno v Ashley Young: Alberto Moreno has been very good going forward but unfortunately for Reds fans he’s been even worse than last year going back.
Ashley Young was born in London and used to play for Aston Villa and Watford.
There was even talk of him going to Liverpool once. Maybe the offer wasn’t big enough and that’s why he plays like the Terminator against the Reds.
Young breathes fire and usually plays his best game of the season regardless of what has come before.
VERDICT: How can you go for Moreno? Young
CENTRAL DEFENCE – Dejan Lovren v Chris Smalling: To say Dejan Lovren is a capable defender is like saying a certain world leader is good at his job.
Smalling might have his issues but Lovren’s attempts at defending are comical at best.
Every Reds fan is nervous when ever the ball heads his way. Only there because Klopp could not get his hands on Virgil Van Dijk.
CENTRAL DEFENCE – Joel Matip v Eric Bailly: This is a close one. Maybe the Joel Matip of last season would have edge out Bailly but sadly for Reds fans Matip has caught the Reds hesitancy disease and become just as tentative and mistake prone as his fellow defenders.
The own goal conceded off Joselu’s left shin against Newcastle had everyone laughing, except Liverpool fans.
RIGHT BACK – Joe Gomez v Antonio Valencia: Maybe Joe Gomez might stand a chance, in three or four years. But for now you have to go for the experienced rugged Ecuadorian. He gets forward as well.
KEEPER: Simon Mignolet v David de Gea: Are you kidding?
VERDICT: De Gea.
The Premier League is finally back this weekend!
And Liverpool’s clash with rivals Manchester United is a fixture to set the pulses racing!
Here, we look at three key player battles that could go a long way to deciding where the game will be won and lost.
Who do you think will win at Anfield?
The Liverpool centre-back will have his work cut out to stop the in-form Red Devils striker, who has struck seven goals in as many appearances so far in the Premier League this season.
Lovren has been a mainstay in the Merseysiders’ backline this term but will have to be at his best to restrict the towering presence of Lukaku and his direct threat on goal.
That said, the former Southampton man shackled Lukaku twice last term when the forward was in Everton colours.
But, both of those games were in a completely different set of circumstances.
Lukaku is playing in a far better side this time around and is bound to have plenty more chances. Expect the Belgian to take the honours in this dual.
The Liverpool captain came under-fire during the international break with England for his backwards/side-to-side passing and lack of forward play, so the 27-year-old will be glad to get back to domestic football.
The central midfield area in these types of games is always congested and it may well suit Henderson to get stuck into battle, where he’ll face Ander Herrera, who now has a chance to impress given Marouane Fellaini’s injury.
While Henderson and Herrera will no doubt be two of the most committed players on the pitch, the Kop man will need to track runs of the Spaniard into the box and also try to drive Jurgen Klopp’s men forward when in possession.
It’s fairly even as far as these two are concerned, with whoever is more willing to make a telling contribution in the opposition’s box giving them the edge in this battle.
The 20-year-old Reds right-back is likely to have a busy afternoon on Merseyside as he deals with the threat of Marcus Rashford, who is likely to get the nod down the left flank.
It’s not out of the question that Jose Mourinho will have identified Gomez as a man to target but he does have the physical presence, if not experience in this fixture, to cope.
A rampant Rashford has the ability to cause any full-back problems and this will be the sternest test of the former Charlton defender’s Anfield career so far.
And if he hasn’t got enough on his plate defensively, he will need to do more to support and overlap star winger Mohamed Salah – although attacking play doesn’t come naturally to him.
It should be a competitive contest and it’s good to see two talented English youngsters both being given an opportunity.
Unlike last year’s corresponding fixture between the two sides, Manchester United head into Anfield on Saturday as slight favourites against bitter rivals Liverpool.
The Reds have a shaky defence and even their formidable attack has not been as potent as it should be, and it will also be shorn of Sadio Mane, who’s out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.
United themselves are missing Paul Pogba, who’s been out since early September, and Marouane Fellaini, but overall their squad is deeper and stronger than Liverpool’s, and in better form. Getting a result at Anfield is never easy, especially considering Liverpool’s excellent record against the rest of the ‘Big Six’ under Jurgen Klopp, but Jose Mourinho’s men will be quietly confident.
Here’s a look at three ways United could play against Liverpool on Saturday.
United have a tall, physical striker who’s good at winning his aerial duels and adept at playing with his back to goal from his time at Everton, who often used Lukaku as a old-fashioned target man in big games away from home. Last season, even United used this strategy at Anfield, with mixed results.
Fellaini started in midfield and Zlatan Ibrahimovic led the line, and United looked to find both with long balls in order to exploit their size and physicality. However, Ibrahimovic struggled with the tactic, as he’s not used to playing in teams with a long ball style. On the other hand, Lukaku is comfortable in such a role, and thus the strategy would likely be more effective with the Belgian in the side than it was last year.
Liverpool’s defence is suspect and especially vulnerable to an aerial onslaught, given their struggles dealing with crosses and set pieces so far this season. There’s no doubt that a long-ball style could be effective against the Reds, even if it will win United no fans among the neutrals.
Just like this season’s fixture, United travelled to Anfield right after the international break last season. Liverpool had 65 percent of the ball, but just three shots on target, and zero goals – and in fact, the best chance fell to United, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing a wide-open, point-blank header. In the end, the game finished 0-0, and Mourinho took a moral victory.
Mourinho’s side owed their draw to a fabulous (if typical) performance from goalkeeper David de Gea, as well as a near-perfect display in midfield from Ander Herrera. The midfielder is in line to start on Saturday, and he could be the perfect man to execute a defensive gameplan again.
The key difference is, last season, United went into this fixture in indifferent form, and thus Mourinho was left with almost no option but to go defensive in order to get a result.
This year, United are level on points at the top of the table, have been scoring freely (while still showing defensive solidity). Mourinho will not care for critics if he pulls off a 0-0 draw or even a counter-attacking win, but more is expected of United this season.
United have scored 21 goals in seven Premier League games so far, and have hit the four-goal mark in four of those games. Only Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Manchester City side have scored more league goals – just one more.
Meanwhile, Klopp has yet to find a solution to Liverpool’s defensive woes. Only West Ham and bottom side Crystal Palace have conceded more than Liverpool’s 12 goals.
It might be the antithesis of Mourinho’s style to let up on the brakes in a crucial away game, but the stats show it might be the best way to win the 199th competitive United-Liverpool derby.
While he might bank on United’s defence being strong enough to keep Liverpool at bay, it’s almost guaranteed that Liverpool’s rearguard wouldn’t be able to do that to United. Time for Mourinho to opt for attack, attack, attack?