The two most successful clubs in the history of English football will resume hostilities tomorrow, when Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield. It is a mouth-watering return to the Premier League following the international break, which sees Jose Mourinho’s side put their unbeaten start to the season on the line. The atmosphere is sure to be electric for Saturday’s early kick-off and victory for the hosts would bring them to within four points of their fierce rivals.
With only one win from their past four top-flight outings, Liverpool’s form has stalled somewhat after a bright start. Scoring goals has not been a problem for Jurgen Klopp’s men – but in contrast, no club in the top half has shipped more. It is these defensive shortcomings which have been to blame for too many dropped points.
United meanwhile, have been mightily impressive, taking 19 points from 21. For all their attacking flair, they have also been watertight in defence, with the only goals they have conceded coming in the 2-2 draw away to Stoke City.
Klopp has been left reeling from the news that key player Sadio Mane has been ruled out from up to two months after injuring his hamstring during the international break, which means Daniel Sturridge may keep his place in attack. Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are edging towards a return, although no date has yet been set.
United have selection problems of their own and will be without Marouane Fellaini, who suffered damage to his knee while playing for Belgium. Paul Pogba, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Marcus Rojo all remain sidelined.
Match prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
Mourinho is a master tactician whose game-plan will be to keep it tight and frustrate Liverpool. Klopp’s team are more than capable of ruining his approach however, although Mane’s absence is a huge blow. The first goal will be crucial in deciding the outcome.