Manchester United travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool in what is usually the most widely anticipated clash in the Premier League.
Liverpool are one of the in-form sides in the league with four wins in the last five games and having scored the joint most goals (five more than United) in the season so far, there are reasons for Klopp’s men to be optimistic ahead of Man United’s visit. Add to it the fact that it was under Klopp that Liverpool knocked Manchester United out of the Europa League earlier this year, the home side could be confident of getting a similar positive result on Monday.
Although Manchester United are much better than the team that lost 2-0 in the Europa League Quarter final first leg at Anfield, clearly boosted by the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, to name a couple, having Jose Mourinho for manager does make them formidable despite the mini-slump in form they suffered that resulted in three back to back defeats. United bounced back themselves by winning three games on the bounce but the momentum has stalled with the 1-1 draw against Stoke City, a game they really should have wrapped up inside the first twenty minutes.
The international break could not have come at a better time for United, which has given them the much needed time on the training pitch to regroup and prepare themselves ahead of a very busy October, which could have serious implications on the rest of the campaign.
There are a couple of injury concerns for Jurgen Klopp following the international break. Midfielder Wijnaldum suffered a hamstring problem against France which rules him out of Monday’s encounter while Lallana has recovered and could feature against Manchester United. Liverpool are expected to field the same back five that started against Swansea City including goalkeeper Lorius Karius.
Manchester United have no fresh injury worries but it will be interesting to see if one of or both Mkhitaryan and Shaw feature on Monday’s blockbuster clash, as both have been deemed fit to be involved. The extra day will help the South American contingent at United to recuperate after their exertions with their respective national teams. But all eyes will again be on Wayne Rooney who was dropped to the bench by Southgate in England’s 0-0 draw against Slovenia and whether or not Mourinho will start the man who scored the winner in the corresponding fixture last season.
Liverpool have lost the most Premier League matches (27) against Monday’s visitors than versus any other opponent.
Rashford has scored 12 goals since his debut in February which is four more than any other player for United in this period and also two more than any Liverpool player since his aforementioned debut.
Liverpool have lost each of their last four PL clashes with United, their worst losing streak against the Red Devils since March 2008 (five defeats).
For Liverpool, it has got to be Sadio Mane. The 24-year old inside forward/winger has been a revelation under Klopp, involving in 4 goals (3 scored + 1 assisted) in 6 appearances. His pace and directness suits the German’s high intensity football down to the ground and he is the type of player that can cause Manchester United a lot of problems, especially if they start Daley Blind at left back.
For Manchester United it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Manchester United, on paper are a more rounded unit than Liverpool. They have got the pace to burn with the choice of Martial and Rashford on the flanks and the power/aerial ability with Ibrahimovic leading the line. Liverpool, for all their prowess going forward, are vulnerable when it comes to defending set pieces, something United have shown they can be very good at. The Red Devils have won 59% of their aerial duels (highest in the league) and scored three goals from set plays in a single game in the 4-1 win against Leicester where they demonstrated what they are capable of from those situations.
Mourinho may have his flaws but he is a specialist in getting results in big away games. Monday could be no different.
Liverpool 1 – 2 Manchester United