The international break is over, and oh boy is it over. We resume Premier League action with arguably the biggest fixture of the English footballing season. It’s Liverpool vs Manchester United. At Anfield. On Monday night. Under the lights.
One word? BOOM!
Put simply, Liverpool’s is better than United’s. We’re seven games into the league season now, so when you add in cup competitions there’s been an adequate level of games to get a good look at either side.
It’s all going too well, isn’t it? Four Premier League wins on the bounce for the Reds, after that tricky start which we coped fairly well with. Leicester City left Anfield with their tails between their legs, before London fell once more this season as Stamford Bridge was conquered. Hull City were swept aside like a fly that had landed on your summer salad, whilst the gritty win over Swansea City last time out made many believe that this season could really be the one where #19 is landed. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, eh?
After all, it’s got to come crashing down at some point hasn’t it? So many times in recent seasons have things looked rosy going into a clash with Manchester United, only for the Red Devils to crush our momentum with brutal force. So, what about their form?
Following their irritatingly Jose Mourinho-esque start to the league season in which they won three straight games, three losses on the bounce in all competitions added a pinch of reality in the huge job Mourinho has on his hands at Old Trafford.
However, they’ve been solid enough since then, picking up a league win over Leicester before triumphing in Europe, however the draw to Stoke at home just before the international break was disappointing, considering the amount of chances that the hosts had.
Currently in sixth, United could start the game eighth but go up to third depending on results that come previously in the weekend.
Liverpool are fourth at the time of writing, but may be seventh come kick-off on Monday. Whisper it quietly, but if certain things happen, including a Liverpool win, the Reds could be top come Tuesday morning.
At the time of writing, there are many questions still to be answered regarding the Liverpool side that will step out on Monday.
In defence, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne were both injured and missed the international break, but reports suggest that they’re both fit enough to return. Joel Matip and James Milner will make up the rest of the defence, whilst it’s likely that Loris Karius will continue behind them.
Stepping into midfield, and that’s where the confusion lies. Adam Lallana didn’t join up with England due to a groin problem and he’s still a doubt for the game, whilst midfield problems worsened when Gini Wijnaldum pulled up with a hamstring injury playing for Holland earlier this week. Jordan Henderson is the only man from this season’s ever-present midfield three that seems nailed on to start.
So how about the alternatives? Emre Can seems a pretty good one, and you’d imagine he’ll definitely step in should either Lallana or Wijnaldum be sidelined. If they’re both out, it gets complicated. Coutinho could drop back into the midfield three as he did against Swansea when Lallana went off, leaving Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino as the front three. Alternatively, if Coutinho was to be part of the front three then there could be a chance for either Lucas Leiva or Marko Grujic to step into the midfield three.
The positive news this week was that Joe Gomez is back in first team training, after an extremely lengthy period on the sidelines.
Manchester United have been handed a boost with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw using the international break to return from injuries that had kept them out of previous league games, with Phil Jones (knee) the only certain senior man out.
There’s been much speculation regarding Wayne Rooney in recent weeks, and whether or not he even has a starting position, let alone what position it is. However, it seems to have calmed a little whilst on England duty as he was benched again, and there’ll be few eyebrows raised when he’s likely named amongst the substitutes on Monday.
Predicted Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Henderson, Can, Lallana; Mane, Coutinho, Firmino.
Predicted Manchester United XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba; Rashford, Mata, Ibrahimovic.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
European football was on offer the last time these two came up against one another, in March of last year. Having won 2-0 at Anfield in the first leg, Liverpool earned a credible 1-1 draw at Old Trafford to move into the quarter finals of the Europa League. Martial opened the scoring with a penalty for United, before Philippe Coutinho’s magnificent goal swung the monentum back into Klopp’s sides’ favour.
The last league meeting wasn’t such an enjoyable one for the Reds, as they were defeated 1-0 at Anfield at the start of the year, Wayne Rooney scoring a smash and grab winner in a game where the hosts spurned a number of opportunities.
- Juan Mata has scored or assisted five goals in his last four games against Liverpool.
- Manchester United have won their four last league games against Liverpool.
- Jürgen Klopp has won three, drawn one and lost one of five meetings with Jose Mourinho.
- Steven Gerrard has the most Premier League goals in this fixture – 8.
Match: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Date: Monday 17th October
Time: 20:00 BST
Referee: Anthony Taylor
PREDICTION: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
If you listen to the under pressure podcast, delivered excellently after every Liverpool league game, you’ll know that Manchester United are due a goal per expected goals statistics. Add our leaky defence to that, and we’re probably going to concede. However, I think we’re simply playing too well at the moment not to win. Add a roaring home crowd to that, and a Roberto Firmino brace, then the three points will be ours with a 2-1 win.