Liverpool’s first game after the latest international break will see them take on arch-rivals Manchester United at Anfield in the Premier League’s early kick-off this Saturday.
The Reds are in need of a win after a difficult September which saw them pick up just one win in seven games.
Both sides have injury issues. Sadio Mané picked up a hamstring strain whilst away with Senegal which will see him sidelined for up to six weeks, whilst Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini are both expected to be absent for United.
It’s been a long old international break. Are you confident heading into this fixture?
The international break is always a nervous time for everyone. Injuries are always the biggest concern and last weekend it looked likely United would be without Lukaku and Fellaini for the Liverpool game. Fortunately it looks like Lukaku will be fit and since the weekend Liverpool have lost Mané to injury.
So with the form United have been in this season, the goals we’re scoring, and the loss of Mane for Liverpool, I’m more confident than I’ve been in a long time going to Anfield.
But it all depends how Mourinho approaches the game. Personally I think parking the bus is a mistake. Liverpool are there for the taking and if we want to be title contenders these are the games we have to win.
How happy have you been with United’s start to the season? What will be ‘a successful season’ be for you?
The start to the season has been very good. Lots of goals scores, not many conceded and that’s created a real confidence around the club that’s been missing for five years. Granted we’ve not really played anyone of note yet, but last season games against Everton, West Ham etc would have been draws.
So there’s definite progress and I think based on that progress we really need to challenge for the title this season. October is a huge month with Liverpool and Chelsea away, and Spurs at home, so by next month we’ll have a much clearer idea of what this United side is capable of.
It’s a tie with a rich history. Can you see this being a game to remember?
I really hope so. My stance is that if Liverpool score three, we should be able to score four. So the game has the potential to be a cracker. However, lunchtime kickoffs after the international break can be a slow dull affair and as much as I want United to come and attack Liverpool, I do fear Mourinho will keep it tight and potentially see a point as a good point in the bigger picture of the season.
If Klopp feels the same then it could be a very cagey affair. I hope not though. There’s a fantastic long running rivalry between the two clubs and it would be nice to give the world a game to remember between the two biggest clubs in England.
Last season we saw Mourinho come to Anfield and set his team up to restrict Liverpool in the final third. Do you think we’ll see the same again?
As above, I think it’s more likely than not. Mourinho is brilliant at breaking a season down and taking the points from games as he predicts will be required. In fairness, a point away to Liverpool isn’t a bad point on paper.
But the way we’ve been playing versus the loss of Mané and the way Liverpool are defending, means most United fans feel this is an opportunity to go and win the game we shouldn’t ignore. Especially with City having a relatively easy run of fixtures in October.
What have you made of Liverpool this season and where do you think they’ll finish?
Liverpool haven’t progressed from the weaknesses they’ve always had. Offensively they can cause anyone problems. I watched the City v Liverpool game a few weeks back and Liverpool were the better side until the sending off.
Typically they were already one nil down though because defensively they are so suspect. Already this season, like previous seasons, they’ve lost a lot of points through a weak defence. So I think the pattern is already set for Liverpool this season.
At times they’ll be impressive but ultimately they’ll never have any consistency because they aren’t strong enough defensively. I’d expect them to get top 4 but it’s going to be a tough battle with Arsenal and Spurs.
No Pogba or Fellaini and Lukaku may not be ‘fully fit’. How signingicant do you think this could be?
If Lukaku was out then I think it would swing the game back in Liverpool’s favour. The two words that comes to mind when I look at those three players is height and power. We walk about Liverpool’s weak defence and I think a symbol of that is their inability to deal with crosses.
Add Fellaini, Pogba and Lukaku in to the box and that’s a lot of players for Liverpool to deal with aerially. Without them United will have to rely on other areas of their play. Which in fairness we’ve done particularly well this season.
Your predicted line-up?
It’s a tough one. I don’t see how we can play the 4-2-3-1 formation we’ve been using a lot this season because we’ll get overrun in the midfield. So it’s either 352 or 433 for me. I have a feeling we’ll see the 3-5-2 with De Gea in goal, Bailly, Jones and Smalling as the back three. Valencia and Young as wing backs.
Herrera and Matic as the midfield two. Mkhitaryan at number ten. Then Lukaku and Martial up front. It’s a brave formation and it would cause Liverpool’s backline lots of problems with two up front.
The Manchester United player that you think could cause Liverpool the most damage?
Anthony Martial. He may not start but he’s ridiculously efficient this season. Last year he was trying too hard and 50% of what he tried wasn’t coming off. This season that’s clearly been worked on because when he gets the ball now he’s always doing something positive. Matic is a key player in the midfield too and I’m amazed Chelsea let him go.
The Liverpool player you think United need to be wary of?
In the absence of Mane it has to be Moreno. No I’m joking. Coutinho is the threat. If United sit back he’s the one player in the league who can score from distance, and if De Gea has any weakness it’s long shots. Other than that I don’t think United have anything to fear.
That’s not being disrespectful to Liverpool because anyone can beat anyone in this league, I just think it’s a reflection of the huge amount of work still required at Liverpool.
Your score prediction for Saturday?
I’m going to go 2-1 United. But as I’ve said on The United Stand this week, this game could be any result. It really could go either way or be a draw. That’s why we all love football.