Manchester United and Liverpool will go head to head at the Old Trafford on Saturday, as the battle for the second position in the Premier League heats up.
United, currently sitting in second place, are just two points above Liverpool in third going into the big game. And whoever comes out on top at the Theatre of Dreams will be in an advantageous position heading into the final leg of the season.
Manchester United come into the game on the back of a late comeback 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Monday night, whereas Liverpool played out a goalless draw against FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League during the week, after having beaten Newcastle United 2-0 in the league prior to that. The last time the two sides met, the game had ended in a goalless draw at Anfield.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed ahead of the match that midfielder Marouane Fellaini is fit again and could be included in the matchday squad. However, Anthony Martial remains absent for the Red Devils, after missing out on the victory over Palace earlier this week. Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also remain sidelined for Manchester United.
David De Gea is a guaranteed starter for United between the sticks and the Spaniard will need to be at his best to keep out this Liverpool attack. Antonio Valencia is expected to retain his spot at right-back, while there could be change at left-back with Luke Shaw set to replace Ashley Young. The former Southampton man will have his task cut out against Mohamed Salah.
In the heart of the defence, there is a possibility of another change happening, with Eric Bailly likely to make his first start since November last year, in place of Victor Lindelof. Chris Smalling should start alongside the Ivorian and look to keep Roberto Firmino quiet.
Scott McTominay did not have the best of the games against Crystal Palace, but he could be set to start once again with Jose likely to ask him to perform a job similar to what he did against Eden Hazard couple weeks back. Nemanja Matic will operate as the deepest of the midfielders, with Paul Pogba completing the trio for the twenty-time English champions.
Jesse Lingard will keep his spot on the right-flank and will try to keep Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson occupied for long phases of the game, while Alexis Sanchez will be expected to start out on the left-side. Through the middle, it will be star striker Romelu Lukaku, who has been in fine form in recent weeks.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Alexis;
Jurgen Klopp has been boosted by the news of Andy Robertson being fit for the game, after he had missed training earlier this week due to a knock he picked up against Newcastle. Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has also recovered from his illness and is in contention for selection. However, right-back Nathaniel Clyne is still not ready to take the field for Liverpool.
In goal, Loris Karius has been enjoying a good run of games and will be hoping to extend that against Manchester United on Saturday. Young defender Trent Alexander-Arnold could be in line for a start at right-back ahead of Joe Gomez, while Andy Robertson will slot in on the opposite flank.
Record signing Virgil van Dijk will partner up with Dejan Lovren in the centre of the backline. How they deal with the threat of Romelu Lukaku will have a bearing on the outcome of the game.
In midfield, despite Alex Oxlade-Chamerblain’s recent form, Klopp could go in with the trio of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and James Milner in order to provide a solid base and have experienced presence on the field for a game of such huge magnitude.
The front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane pretty much picks itself. When on song, there are few attacking lineups that look more threatening that Liverpool’s deadly trident and they will make sure they exploit even the smallest chink in Manchester United’s armour on Saturday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Can, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane;
- Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.90
- Manchester United Asian Handicap 0.0 @ 1.960
- Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 3.25
- This will be the 170th meeting in league competition between these sides – Manchester United have won 67 to Liverpool’s 55.
- Manchester United have lost only once at home this season in all competitions (W16, D2), with that defeat coming against Manchester City.
- Liverpool are the Premier League’s form team with 25 points gained from 10 games. They have lost just once in their last 20 Premier League matches (W14, D5).
- Jose Mourinho has won only one of his eight meetings in all competitions with Jurgen Klopp (D4, L3).
- Liverpool have scored 34 away league goals, a joint-high in the top five European leagues (level with Olympique Lyon).
Player to watch
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
The Egyptian attacker has been absolutely sensational since his summer move to Liverpool from AS Roma. It seems as though each time Salah takes the field nowadays, he is bound to score. The 25-year old has already netted 24 league goals and has 32 in all competitions, along with 11 assists and is looking unstoppable at the moment.
Going up against Mourinho, Salah will be keen on proving a point or two to the Portuguese, after his failed spell at Chelsea couple of years ago when Jose was the manager.
With the United defence not looking particularly convincing in recent weeks, the Liverpool man could wreak havoc at the Old Trafford on Saturday, given that he has been on the scoresheet for five successive league games for the Reds.
Manchester United 1-2 Liverpool
Mourinho is likely to set his team up looking for a draw, much like he did in the away game at Anfield. However, Manchester United’s defence has looked leaky and vulnerable of late and this Liverpool attacking line-up is too good to miss out on any opportunity. And here at the Hard Tackle, we predict a 2-1 victory for Klopp’s brigade at the Old Trafford.