With no league football in two weeks, you’d hope that Liverpool would be eased back into the usual routine, but that is not the case. The Reds welcome Manchester United to Anfield for the first fixture since the international break and the lunchtime kickoff tomorrow will be eagerly watched by football fans all over the world. United are flying high this year, sitting at second in the league having won six of the opening seven games. On the other hand, Liverpool have been struggling of late and have only picked up five points from the last four. A big showing is expected from the home side, as the pressure is beginning to mount on Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool Team News
Simon Mignolet will start between the sticks for Liverpool and he should be raring to go after getting no game time with Belgium. The back four has been consistently changing this season and but Klopp’s decision on a central pairing, may be forced upon him. Dejan Lovren has been struggling with injury recently so will need to be assessed ahead of tomorrow. The Croatian played for the full 90 minutes of the 2-0 win over Ukraine on Monday, so club doctors will be keen to see in what state he has been returned in. Alberto Moreno is expected to get the nod ahead of Andy Robertson, as will Joe Gomez instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Jurgen Klopp will likely continue with the 4-3-3 formation, and the usual trio will be expected to start once again. Emre Can will be bouncing after scoring his first international goal during the break, whereas Jordan Henderson will be happy with his captaincy efforts to steer England to the finals. Georginio Wijnaldum will complete the midfield, leaving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to continue the disappointing start to his Liverpool career, from the bench.
Liverpool were dealt a devastating blow from the international break, as Sadio Mane picked up a hamstring injury while on duty. He will likely be out for six weeks. This forces Philippe Coutinho to move up the field to left winger, a position he has flourished in during his time in the Premier League. He will be joined by international team-mate, Roberto Firmino who should once again take up the striker position. The Brazilian duo trained with Liverpool on Thursday despite having just returned from playing in their home country, making it appear as though they will be fit and ready for tomorrow. Mohamed Salah will round out the starting eleven on the right-hand side. The Egyptian sent his country to the World Cup with a 95th-minute penalty and returned to Liverpool to pick up his second Player of the Month award.
Predicted Lineup: Mignolet; Moreno, Klavan, Matip, Gomez; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Coutinho, Firmino, Salah
Manchester United Team News
Manchester United didn’t come out of the break unscathed either. Marouane Fellani, who has been in the form of his life recently, suffered a knee injury which should see him on the sideline for three weeks. With Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba also missing, United could be quite stretched in the centre of midfield. However, they have decent depth and Ander Herrera will play alongside Nemanja Matic in the CDM position.
There are injuries at the back as well with neither Phil Jones nor Marcos Rojo expected to be fit for the encounter. This means Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly will be the starting centre-backs, with Ashley Young fitting in, once again, in his brand new position on the left side of defence.
The attacking options will be led, unsurprisingly, by Golden Boot hopeful, Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian has scored seven league goals since his big money move from Everton in the summer. Liverpool’s defence will have to be on top form if they’re going to keep him under wraps. United will likely come out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing in behind Lukaku.
Predicted Lineup: de Gea; Young, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia; Matic, Herrera; Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Mata, Lukaku
Manchester United have been looking unstoppable the season whereas Liverpool have been anything but. The Reds will certainly be buoyed by the home advantage and, Manchester City aside, have a habit of pulling off a performance against the better teams. They play better when teams come at them but will have to drastically improve their finishing if any headway is going to be made past David de Gea, who has conceded just two goals all season. I’m doing my best to be optimistic and think they’ll snatch a 1-1 draw, but definitely don’t be surprised if it turns into a miserable afternoon.