Manchester United will play high flying Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday. The fight for the second place has been fierce in recent weeks, both the clubs have battled back and forth and a victory this weekend would be a huge boost, not only in terms of points but also in terms of morale and confidence.
The Red Devils come into this crucial match after a spell bounding come back victory against Crystal Palace on Monday. A dull first half performance against The Eagles saw United go 2-0, but Mourinho’s side was able to secure a victory as they saw Nemanja Matic hit a screamer of a volley to rescue all three points.
October saw Manchester United visit Anfield and get a hard fought goalless draw. The whole United squad was criticized after the match for negative tactics and showing lack of ambition. The Red Devils sat back deep in their own half and avoided Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’, although had Lukaku converted his one-on-one chance then the dynamics of the match could have been different. But the Belgian goal machine is in good form of late, with eight goals already in 2018, including goals in the last two games.
Paul Pogba was also missing from the Liverpool tie while recovering from a serious hamstring injury and will again miss the heated derby. Pogba pulled up in training at United’s Carrington training ground on Friday and was unable to finish the session.
The Red Devils’ latest signing was also an unhappy Arsenal player back then. With Sanchez and Pogba in their playing XI, United looks a completely different side.
Liverpool also have massively improved. Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah who returned to English football, turned out to be one of the best bargains of the season, with 24 league goals already. Salah has hit the top gear, linking up effectively with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. The Senegal international, missed the first Manchester United match with a hamstring injury.
This match is not only between two of the major rivals, but also a fight of different contrast in playing styles. Liverpool scores more while allowing the opponent to score too than Manchester United. Klopp favours a more gung-ho approach than Mourinho.
Sometimes labelled as the ‘Devil’, Jose Mourinho is not a manager that will allow opponents to go past his team easily. The Portuguese will send his side to get the three points, not to show how beautifully football can be played. Liverpool are no doubt the ones expected to score the first goal, due to their proficiency in attack but they should be very well prepared for United’s devastating counter-attacks.
"Maybe they are not in the best shape, but still they win ugly, what matters is the points. Last time, when they came here, they defend really deep so let's see what happens now. We will play like we play every day, attacking the football." Lovren told British media.
Liverpool went head to head against Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday, but Klopp sent out a fairly strong XI with only Salah and record signing Dutch centre back Van Djik rested. The match ended 0-0, but the Merseyside Reds had already qualified after beating Porto 0-5 in the first leg. They are now unbeaten in last seven games.
The fixture assures to kick the weekend's Premier League fixtures off with a bang on Saturday afternoon as the rivalry between the two sides continues.
Potential Man Utd XI: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Young; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Alexis.
Potential Liverpool XI: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino, Mane