Liverpool v Man United: The five battles which will determine who wins
The highlight of this weekend’s Premier League return is undoubtedly Liverpool versus Manchester United. Jurgen Klopp’s rampant hosts welcome Jose Mourinho’s hit-or-miss Red Devils. But who will prevail at what will be a rocking Anfield?
Liverpool have starred this season with an endless pressing game and scintillating attacking football, while United have offered glimpses of what might be possible under the Special One.
So ahead of what should be a cracking edition of Monday Night Football, here are the battles which could decide who takes the spoils…
Will Jose stick or twist?
Mourinho has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 at United so far this season, but up against Liverpool’s 4-3-3 it may be worth adopting a similar line-up to his opponents.
United risk leaving Zlatan Ibrahimovic isolated if Klopp’s men begin to dominate, while Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba could struggle to contain so many men joining Liverpool’s forays forward.
Going 4-3-3 would allow United to combat that while also offering greater outlets up front with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard either side of Zlatan.
Can anyone control Coutinho?
Liverpool boast a dangerous quartet of Daniel Sturridge, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, but it’s undoubtedly the latter who United need beware of most of all.
The Brazilian star already has three goals and two assists to his name from six starts this season.
It’s his movement and vision however, which has allowed him to fire off a Premier League second-highest 29 shots on goal, and a third-highest six through balls.
It will fall on Pogba and Herrera to ensure this little wizard is kept in check. Easier said than done.
Klopp may be without Georginio Wijnaldum, and possibly Adam Lallana, but it’s Jordan Henderson who has kept Liverpool ticking this season.
The England international boasts a league-high 589 passes, and backs that up with another league-second best 29 tackles. Right now he’s the Premier League’s finest central midfielder.
If United allow Henderson time on the ball, they’ll be in trouble. And if they don’t move it quickly when in possession, the ex-Sunderland man will be there.
Room for Rooney?
In short, no.
United’s finest performance by a mile this season came in the 4-1 thrashing of Leicester, and Rooney was on the bench.
A switch to 4-3-3 may allow the United and England skipper to start, but it’s hard to see where he could find his way into a 4-2-3-1 right now.
Time for Pogba to stand up
A £90m price-tag was always going to be hard to justify, but there have been glimpse of brilliance from Pogba upon his United return and he netted a sublime winner in midweek for France against the Netherlands.
And there is an opportunity to shine here, with Liverpool set to miss at least one and probably two of their core central midfielders.
There have been low points, but the same can be said of the squad in general this season, and United fans will be praying this is the game where Pogba truly announces his return.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing