Fixtures don’t come much bigger than this for Liverpool, as bitter rivals Man United visit what should be a deafening Anfield on Monday evening.
Liverpool vs. Man United
Monday October 17, 2016 – 8pm (BST)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
This has, and always will be, the biggest game in English football.
It is a fixture that is watched from all corners of the world, regardless of league positions, and its sheer ferocity and entertainment value makes for riveting viewing.
Liverpool are flying at the moment, having won their last five games in all competitions, and their 2-1 win at Swansea City last time around showed a grittier side to their game.
Things haven’t got off to a great start for Jose Mourinho and United, with the recent 1-1 draw at home at Stoke City indicative of their early-season unpredictability.
It may be a cliche, but form generally does go out of the window in games such as these, and it may well come down to a questionable refereeing decision, a moment of genius or a defensive howler.
Liverpool are due a win in the Premier League against United, having lost the last four—Monday would be the perfect time to end that run.
Last league meeting: Liverpool 0-1 Man United
We spoke to United supporter Marcus Baxby (@MarcusBaxby) to hear what he had to say about Monday’s showdown.
Are you happy with United’s start, in terms of results and performances?
It’s been a bit up and down so far in terms of both results and performances. Premier League wise, we started with three wins and there was a fair bit of buzz, which has since dampened down after a few poor performances and expectations have been managed a bit.
So yes, room for improvement but a few more positives than there have been for the last three years.
Are you pleased with how Jose Mourinho has started? Has he gone about things any differently to how you expected?
Same answer, really. I’m more bothered about results than anything else at the end of the day. That said, having not wanted him as manager before he was appointed, Mourinho does seem to have got the players on side and has brought in some big personalities in Zlatan and Pogba, who need to step up and pull us through tough moments.
Whether it’s been different to how I expected is tough. I guess I was hoping that he would be the one to finally show Rooney the door, but it seems to have reached a stage where he is managing the number of games Rooney is playing, so it will be interesting to see whether he starts him on Monday night.
Looking at Liverpool, are there any players in particular who strike fear into you ahead of Monday’s game? Or is it more their work as a team?
As a team, I’ve been impressed with Liverpool, and I can’t help liking Klopp despite him managing you lot.
Lallana is looking like the player you wanted to buy from Southampton, and Coutinho and Firmino are always a threat. I think Sturridge can be kept quiet in games, but he will probably produce a moment of magic now I’ve said that!
Hit me with your prediction for the game: how will it pan out?
We burgled a win last year in the league but then were completely overwhelmed in the Europa League game, so I just hope we do ourselves justice this time around. I’d always take a draw away at Anfield. 1-1.
Klopp’s biggest injury concern is Georginio Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman hobbling out of the Netherlands’ 1-0 defeat to France on Monday.
The 25-year-old still has a chance of starting at Anfield, though, but Emre Can may well fill in. Adam Lallana is also a doubt, but Klopp has refused to rule him out on contention.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are both available, despite arriving back from Brazil duty late in the week, while Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren are back to full fitness.
Joe Gomez has made a pleasing return as well, following a year out, with Kloppdescribing his comeback as “a very nice moment”.
It will take Gomez some time to return to the level he was prior to injury, and he likely won’t be considered for Monday, but it is great to see a player of such huge potential back in the fold.
As for United, Mourinho has just one member of his squad unavailable: the forever injury-prone Phil Jones.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is fighting for a starting berth, having made a slow start to life in Manchester, while Wayne Rooney will be desperate to be selected, having enjoyed some great moments in the fixture down the years.
Mourinho is likely to field a typically robust starting lineup, in a bid to target Liverpool’s much-publicised set-piece frailties.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 2-1 vs. Swansea City
Won 5-1 vs. Hull City
Won 3-0 vs. Derby County
Won 2-1 vs. Chelsea
Won 4-1 vs. Leicester City
Man United – Last five results (all competitions)
Drew 1-1 vs. Stoke City
Won 1-0 vs. Zorya Luhansk
Won 4-1 vs. Leicester City
Won 3-1 vs. Northampton Town
Lost 3-1 vs. Watford
Klopp discussed the availability of his players for the game, allaying fears that certain key men may miss out:
“Four sessions to go, we have to see. I can wait until I make my final decision—we’ll have a really good team on the pitch.”
“Roberto could do a bit more [than Coutinho] in the last session. Phil played two games so needed more recovery after a long, long flight.
“It’s a long trip, and it’s still in their legs, but each hour helps and playing on Monday is an advantage, of course.”
One to Watch: Marcus Rashford
Few English youngsters have burst onto the scene quite like Marcus Rashford in recent years, and the teenager is expected to start at Anfield.
The striker is on the crest of a wave at the moment, with everything he touches seemingly turning to goals—12 in 27 appearances for United—and he will be a real threat against Liverpool.
Likely to be deployed on the left-hand side, Rashford’s pace, directness and power will constantly test Clyne’s defensive resolve.
The 18-year-old is playing without any fear, and he will believe he can be the match-winner in one of the biggest games of his career so far.