Liverpool v Manchester United Preview – The Battle Of The North West Heavyweights

Liverpool v Manchester United Preview – The Battle Of The North West Heavyweights
Oct 17, 2016

Featured Liverpool Manchester United

Liverpool’s top four credentials will face another reality check, when they are up against bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

Liverpool have made an impressive start to the season so far, they are currently undefeated so far this season against Arsenal, Tottenham & Chelsea – signs that they can mount a serious assault on the top 4, although the title may be too much to ask from Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Manchester United, their bitter rivals, on the other hand, have not made an ideal start to the Barclays Premier League season; they lie 6th, with marquee signings such as Paul Pogba & Zlatan Ibrahimovic still trying to gel into the team. Mourinho will be hoping for a more ruthless approach to goal than the one that saw them frustrated at home to Stoke City, despite creating enough chances to win the game.

There’ll be plenty of tackles, kicks & aggression involved between the North West rivals – a defeat for Manchester United will ask more searching questions regarding their ability to compete in the title race this season, but a win could prove to be a turning point in their sluggish start to the season.

It’s already October, the season’s winding fast, and the last thing either of these sides want to be doing is playing catch-up at this point, so don’t expect any defensive approaches from either sides. Both have plenty to play for – it’s not just professional pride; after all, this is the daddy of derbies, as Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed it in 2009.

So, what’s the team news ahead of the game? Let’s take a look..

Team news for Liverpool

Liverpool, the hosts, have received injury boosts, despite initial worries over the potential absences of  Dejan Lovren & Nathaniel Clyne ahead of the game.

Wijnaldum, who had been reported to have been feeling his hamstring during serving international break for the Netherlands in midweek is a major doubt, with Emre Can expected to fill in for the injured midfielder.

Nathaniel Clyne, dubbed a fan favourite by many for his model of consistency at right back was initially a worry, but he was back in training on Wednesday, having missed international duty with  England against Malta and Slovenia.

Dejan Lovren had obtained a knock in Liverpool’s last Premier League fixture away at Swansea, but he was seen training with Clyne at Melwood.

The Reds are also sweating on the pre-match fitness of influential midfielder Adam Lallana, who has been one of the most notable improved performers so far this season.

Manchester United team news

Luke Shaw was suffering from an illness, however on Twitter, he appears to be battling to win his fitness.

Henrik Mkhitaryan, who is yet to survive 90 minutes for the Red Devils so far in the league, is expected to be available for the crunch game, according to Jose Mourinho.

Otherwise, Manchester United have a full-strength side to choose from ahead of their trip to Merseyside.

Expected line up from Liverpool (4-3-3):

Screenshot 2016-10-15 at 14.55.36

As boss Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t have hoped, key players such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana have been left out of the side, meaning the German may have to move players into makeshift positions; Philippe Coutinho continues on the left, Mane on the right, with usual starter in striker, Roberto Firmino, expected to be deployed on the left. Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi may be forced to settle for places on the bench.

Emre Can will fill in the void left by Georiginio Wijnaldum, and Marko Grujic, who impressed in pre-season, will be given a rare start.

The back has a familiar feel to it, household names like James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne will be looking to maintain their impressive form this season at fullback, with Lovren-Matip set to continue being the CB partnership.

Expected Manchester United lineup (4-2-3-1):

Screenshot 2016-10-15 at 14.57.16

United don’t have any immediate injury concerns – Jose Mourinho confirmed on Friday morning that he would have both Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan available for the trip to Liverpool, but it is unlikely Mkhitaryan will  work his way immediately in the starting 11. The defence and midfield has a familiar look to it, with £89m record signing Paul Pogba looking to prove a point following his goal in midweek; however he has found it difficult to adapt to the pressure in English football.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will continue upfront, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford set for places on the wings. Juan Mata will start in the No.10 role, just behind the Swedish international.

Things to look out for from United

Liverpool’s biggest worry will be Manchester United’s phyiscal presence, which is boasted by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Marouane Fellani. They’ll also be trying to get as much width as possible in their play – it paid off in their victories in the league so far this season; fullbacks Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw pose a threat on the overlap as their pace could be key against James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne. Liverpool aren’t known for their strength in set-pieces, they conceded a goal from a corner kick at Swansea in which they failed to play the offside trap; so their physical prowess will be what the visitors need to combat their opponents on the offensive.

Things to look out for from Liverpool

Liverpool’s pace, movement, passing & pressing is what has helped them to be so successful going forward this season – they have scored more goals in the Premier League than any other team so far; Sadio Mane has been highlighted as a key asset for his pace & intelligent play as well as goals; Coutinho can provide Liverpool the creativity they need – his long shot ability & skills could torment Luke Shaw at Anfield. Roberto Firmino’s impressive movement and knowledge to read the game and exploit voids left from the United defence could be very beneficial for the Reds, especially with the Red Devils lack of pace in their backline

Key Men

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

The Senegalese international has proved to be a brilliant capture from Jurgen Klopp – repaying back his sizeable fee of £34m. From the brilliant strike against Arsenal on the opening day, his pace, creativity, movement, pressing and involvement in the game has been integral to Liverpool’s rise recently. Antonio Valencia could have a difficult night dealing with him.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

His physicality, aerial presence, workrate and confidence helped Manchester United to a stuttering win against Ukranian side Zorya. He has made other contributions to the side – immediately endearing himself with Manchester United supporters. He could prove to be a handful for Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.

Prediction

This is the game that the neutral always looks at first when the fixtures are announced ahead of the new season. Manchester United have already faced their noisy neighbours, Manchester City at home, but Pep Guardiola won the battle of the spenders, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford. Since that defeat, the Red Devils embarked on a 3-match losing streak, which appeared to be eradicated after victories domestically and in the league against Leicester City.

They had the chance to extend that run against Stoke at home – a game that everyone tipped the hosts to win comfortably, as United, being the title favourites as they always are, get in the habit of displacing these type of teams easily. They looked brilliant going forward, but they couldn’t find the killer touch when it mattered, which is why they won’t be exactly rocking in confidence – their title bid could be in serious jeopardy if they lose at Anfield on Monday as the strength of teams are growing, and growing, and growing, meaning it’ll be difficult for them to play catch-up later on in the season.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have been looking excellent recently. Losing 2-0 to Burnley was a game in which they were widely criticised for their inconsistent performances, but the Reds have picked themselves up since, embarking on a four-match winning run, commencing on 10 September. They’ve been scoring a ridiculous amount of goals – Sadio Mane has added that touch to the team that gives Liverpool more of a creative, fast-paced mindset which has been lacking previously. The only thing that would worry Klopp is the fact that they are yet to go a game in the league without conceding a goal – and they will be looking to eradicate that against their bitter rivals.

Liverpool have also gone out and proven that they can perform against any type of opposition – against the bigger teams such as Spurs, where they got a decent result (a game in which they really should have won), winning at the Emirates on the opening day and beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They’ve also managed to swat aside the smaller sides such as Hull City & Swansea. The key behind this is their gegenpressing that Klopp has adopted – it worked brilliantly against Hull and Leiecster – in the first half of both of their games they tore them apart. If they can make the same full-throttle start at Anfield, I see no way back for United.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United.

Head to head:

-Liverpool’s last home win in the Premier League against Manchester United was a 1-0 win back in September 2013.

-Liverpool haven’t beaten United in the league since March 2014.

-The last meeting between these two sides was a 1-0 win to the Red Devils in January.

-A Manchester United win at Anfield on Monday would equal their 5th consecutive win against the Reds in the Premier League – the most Liverpool managed over their rivals was 4, from 2000-2002.

 

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