Liverpool vs. Manchester United
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Liverpool host Manchester United in the lunch-time kick-off on Saturday, as the clubs meet for the 199th time in all competitions.
The main injury worry for Liverpool will be the Senegalese forward Sadio Mane who is set to be out of action for six weeks after suffering a severe hamstring injury whilst on international duty.
Coutinho and Firmino should both be available despite their 11-hour flight on return from international duty for Brazil in Chile.
For Manchester United, Fellaini is expected to be out of action after ligament damage in his knee sustained on international duty and their captain Michael Carrick is unlikely to feature, although utility defender Phil Jones is likely to available after recovering from a knee injury.
The question here is can Liverpool cope without Sadio Mane? It’s not like they don’t have enough attacking talent, but he is a colossal loss for the Anfield team. However this is surely the time for the £35m Oxlade-Chamberlain to earn his price tag, if he doesn’t get a start now then surely Klopp just doesn’t trust him enough?
Granted, he does not offer the same raw power and pace that Mane does, but he has shown in the past that given the opportunity he can be good enough. Yet even without Mane, Liverpool do have enough talent to worry the United defence: Coutinho looks to be in exceptional form and Mohammed Salah is becoming another name to add to the list of ‘Players Chelsea Let Go Who Went On To Make Them Look Foolish’. A long list indeed.
In the international break, Salah showed remarkable poise to send his nation to the World Cup with a last-minute penalty, and he hasn’t started too badly for Liverpool either, scoring six goals in his first nine appearances for the Reds.
However having said all this, if any team is good enough to deal with Liverpool’s attacking threat it’s United: they will be short of physical presence in midfield with no Fellaini or Pogba, but all that does is allow Herrera to come in and he always always performs in big games, like Ji Sung Park used to (cough Champions League semi-final against Chelsea cough).
Then up top they have enough attacking options to run Liverpool ragged: Lukaku can expect a bit of stick as a former Everton player but if anything, he will thrive off that. Then you have Rashford and Martial out wide with Mata/Mkhitaryan sitting behind. A truly terrifying prospect.
No Pogba will be a big miss for United, but with Liverpool’s defensive frailty I can’t see anything other than a United win. Liverpool will come out of the blocks all guns blazing as they usually do, but come the second half United will inevitably run away with it.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-3 Manchester United
Written by Olly Norman.