Liverpool FC travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the North-West derby looking to avenge their double defeat last season, the second of which derailed their march towards fourth place. We look at three possible starting XIs the Reds could deploy in order to beat their fiercest rivals.
Manchester United beat Liverpool FC 3-0 and 2-1 last season, with Louis van Gaal getting the better of Brendan Rodgers in his first season in charge of United.
Things are unlikely to get much easier for Rodgers this weekend, with Liverpool FC without the suspended Philippe Coutinho for the game, while the availability of captain Jordan Henderson is still a doubt. In good news, however, Adam Lallana could be declared fit for game.
However, we pick Henderson in our first suggested XI, in the event that the 25-year-old is passed fit to play.
4-3-3 a Mignolet; Clyne, Gomez, Skrtel, Sakho; Lucas, Henderson, Milner; Firmino, Ibe, Benteke
The starting XI is more or less the same that Liverpool FC deployed against West Ham and Arsenal FC. Jordan Hendersona s deeper role was played by Milner, while Can replaced Henderson in the XI and played the role of the most advanced midfielder.
However, the two results could not have been more different, with the Reds playing out a credible 0-0 draw against Arsenal FC — which they would have won if not for Cecha s brilliant goalkeeping — and losing 3-0 at home to West Ham.
The Arsenal FC game, though, is a much more appropriate game to compare the upcoming clash against Manchester United with — an away game at a top 4 English side who like to play with the ball and can be hit on the counter attack.
This is in contrast to the fixture against West Ham, where the Hammers came to Anfield and kept things tight, forcing Liverpool FC to try and break them down.
The 4-3-3 line-up is tailor-made for the Reds to defend well and attack with lightening counters with the pace and power up front. Direct balls to Benteke and the pace of Ibe and Firmino will be useful for Liverpool FC.
Another reason why Jordan Ibe should be playing this game despite not being at his best is that he can run down the flanks rather than coming in. This resolves the issue of width to an extent and is the only way Liverpool FC can play a solid line-up with Joe Gomez in defence instead of Moreno, who got ripped apart by Juan Mata in the meeting between the two sides at Anfield last season.
4-4-2 – Mignolet; Clyne, Moreno, Skrtel, Sakho; Firmino, Lucas, Can, Milner; Ings, Benteke .
There are a lot of suggestions that Danny Ings should be brought in to replace the suspended Philippe Coutinho. James Milner and Roberto Firmino can man the wings with the English midfielder playing from the left to protect the marauding Alberto Moreno against Juan Mata. Lucas and Can make up a solid midfield pairing to counter any threats from central areas that United may pose.
Ings — who is himself a forward who likes to be busy and involved in the game — can link up with Benteke the same way Coutinho did, and prevent him from being isolated, which may be a problem if he is alone up-front in the absence of the Brazil star.
Nonetheless, the fact that there will be two players up-front and in central midfield in an away tie against a Manchester United side that like to keep the ball and will come at you from all sides may not be the best of ploys.
3-4-2-1: Mignolet; Skrtel, Sakho, Lovren; Clyne, Moreno, Lucas, Can; Milner, Firmino; Benteke
The last time Liverpool FC played three at the back against Louis van Gaala s Manchester United side, they were tactically outsmarted and lost 2-0 with Juan Mata exploiting the space left behind by the Redsa wing-back Alberto Moreno.
With United still having their in-form attacking players out wide in the form of Memphis Depay and Juan Mata, it might not be the best option to play this formation as the space between the wing-back and the central defender could be there to be exploited.
However, the advantage will be that Liverpool will have better width going forward and the formation is arguably more suited to the personnel available to Brendan Rodgers, with Milner and Firmino preferring to play centrally.