It does not get much bigger than this. We play United this weekend and as always we will look to not only defeat them but to downright embarrass them. It will be an early kickoff at Old Trafford, as we already played them at home (0-0 draw). We currently sit at third, two points behind United. This means that a win will see us overtake them in the league, making this game even more meaningful. It should be noted that Tottenham are only two points behind us, so we have a lot at stake here. We drew our last game but won the previous four so we will be in high spirits. Bogdan is back in training, and it looks like Henderson will be doubtful for the match.
We can expect Mourinho to use a low block for this match to suffocate our three forwards. I would think that United will play a four at the back with Sanchez and Lingard flanking Lukaku, and using a midfield three. Defensively I see a 4-5-1 shape. Then counter on us all day. They might try to be a bit more daring since they are at home, but they set up shop from the get go against Manchester City so you never know.
For us we obviously have to use our strongest lineup, which in my opinion is Karius; Robertson, Lovren, VVD, Gomez; Lallana, Can, Milner; Mane, Firmino, and Salah.
Defensively I think we can allow Smalling time on the ball, because playing with the ball on his feet is not his strong suit. We want him to step up with it as he enters our mid block, leaving room behind him that we can take advantage of. Firmino can press from behind, and our nearest midfielder that he approaches can confront him slightly. That way he has pressure both in front of him and behind him. The other midfielders should go with a sort of man/zone type of defense (man mark the player in your zone). Firmino should look to win the ball, while our midfielder who confronts him should use cover shadows to block any passing lanes. The more he advances up the field with the ball, the more nervous he will get as it will become unfamiliar territory. This means that he will be more prone to committing a mistake, and we can send through Salah and Mane when we win the ball back. Because Young and Valencia are actually pretty fast, narrower runs should be asked from our two wingers to avoid a footrace with their fullbacks.
Offensively, fluidity will be key. The left side may act with greater fluidity than the right because of Lallana. Interchange of positions between him, Firmino and Mane will pull defenders and midfielders all over the place. If Mane always threatens to make runs in behind, then Firmino and Lallana can link up between the lines with the extra space that was created because of a United defender worrying about Mane. Robertson from an outside position can also link up with these players and threaten on the outside. With this link up play and attempt to create extra space between lines on this side of the field, we can expect United to bring an extra defender or two to deal with the dilemma. This is where the direct runs from Salah come in. If United do not try to deal with our our build up on the left side then Lallana and Firmino will have a field day in-between lines. If United commit an extra player or two, then that means less players are concentrated on Salah.
I expect a cagey affair to begin with. However, after a goal is scored I believe both teams will raise their game. I think we will see at least three goals, and more importantly I believe we will see a Liverpool victory.