Manchester United travel to Anfield on Saturday to take on Liverpool in the Premier League.
Manchester United’s last action in the Premier League was a 4-0 thrashing of last-place Crystal Palace just prior to the international break. Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku scored a goal each while Marouane Fellaini hit a brace as United demolished an already struggling Roy Hodgson side, who were condemned to yet another defeat, and are yet to score a league goal this season. The win left United joint top of the league standings, only trailing neighbours Manchester City on goal difference.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have had a dip in form, with their last two league games, against Newcastle United and Burnley, ending in 1-1 draws. They dropped two points away from home to Rafa Benitez’s men as Philippe Coutinho’s goal was cancelled out by Joselu in the 36th minute. Successive draws mean that Jurgen Klopp’s men are now seventh in the league with 12 points after seven matches, trailing Jose Mourinho’s men by seven points ahead of their exciting encounter.
In terms of team news, Mourinho received a major blow as Fellaini suffered a knee injury on international duty, and as per initial reports, he is set to be out for at least two weeks, which means that he’ll most likely miss the trip to Anfield. However, the United boss hasn’t confirmed the extent of his injury yet. There will also be some usual absentees like Ibrahimovic, Rojo and Pogba, who’re all yet to confirm their return date. Also, it is unclear whether Carrick and Jones would be fit to play the game, since the skipper missed the last two club games due to a knock while the latter withdrew from the English squad through injury. There’s some good news for the boss as well, as Lukaku, who missed Belgium’s game against Bosnia due to an ankle injury, returned to action and scored as a substitute in Belgium’s 4-0 victory over Cyprus this week. De Gea and Bailly got a well-deserved rest, as the former sat out a meaningless game against Israel while the latter played only one game for the Elephants while on international duty. Players like Herrera as well as the most recent Player of the Month, Martial, were not called up by their respective national sides and as a result, would be ready and raring to go against their bitter rivals.
Jurgen Klopp’s men also received a major injury blow during the international break, as star man Sadio Mane suffered an injury that’ll keep him out of action for about six weeks. The Senegalese forward, who is Liverpool’s top scorer this season, was substituted in his side’s 2-0 victory over Cape Verde Islands in last weekend’s World Cup qualifier. The hosts could also be without Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, who’ve both been lately struggling with back problems. They’ve had a piece of good news as well, as star midfielder Adam Lallana reportedly stepped up his rehabilitation from a thigh injury he sustained in pre-season by visiting a specialist in Qatar.
This’ll be a special day for the hosts, who’ve recently announced that Anfield’s Centenary Stand will be renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand on Saturday in honour of the club legend. The match day programme will feature a cover dedicated to the Scotsman and a special mosaic will be revealed prior to kick-off.
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the season, and would probably be key in both sides’ title charge later in the season. United could send a message to their rivals with a win on Saturday, particularly after pundits’ claims that they haven’t yet played against any top side and so their neighbours are looking better equipped to lift the league trophy. And on the other hand, Klopp’s men could bring their league campaign back on track with a convincing victory over the Red Devils. Whatever the outcome may be, it’s obvious that this will be a cracker of a match.
Who do I think will win this game? In Van Persie’s words, “The boy inside me is screaming for Man United!”