English football’s biggest rivalry. What better way to mark a return to Premier League action after an International break than with Manchester United against Liverpool.
The game comes on the back of defeats for both sides last time out in the Premier League and has the makings to be a real eye opener. It is no secret that both Louis Van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers stand as managers very much under pressure to achieve this season, therefore both will be keen to prove their team can compete with the Premier League’s very best.
With neither team looking at all menacing in front of goal so far this campaign, it is difficult to see how the game will pan out. While both managers will be hoping to see their side score goals and secure victory, players will be tentative as a result of the inevitability that Van Gaal and Rodgers will strive to orchestrate a solid defensive performance with fears of a second consecutive loss in mind.
Saturday’s late kick off will be an insight as to how similar or dissimilar the two sides are at this point, given how both have been tipped to challenge for the fourth Champions League spot.
Will Anthony Martial and David De Gea feature?
One man who could make an appearance today is Manchester United’s big summer signing Anthony Martial. Old Trafford could play host to the teenager’s Premier League debut and what an occasion it would be for the Frenchman. There has been much speculation surrounding the transfer fee United paid for him, however he has the full backing of his manager Louis Van Gaal: “I imagine the fans think ‘£50m, he has to score.’ No, he is 19 and he has to adapt”. The money spent on his services could not have been impacted by the former AS Monaco man, meaning the club finds itself under more pressure than the player himself. United’s new man has been likened to Thierry Henry which in itself promises a striker with pace, dynamic movement and a goal scoring touch- something that the Red Devils are lacking of right now.
David De Gea emerges as another huge talking point ahead of the clash. The footballing world fell into a state of confusion and shock on Friday as it was revealed that the goalkeeper- who failed to complete a move to Real Madrid in the summer- had signed a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford for five more years. It will be interesting to see how he performs if selected to start in goal, after his dream move to Real Madrid fell through.
Selection issues for Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers will undoubtedly be desperate to make amends for the two defeats to United in the league last season, however he will have to do it without star man Philippe Coutinho- who is suspended after receiving a red card in the defeat to West Ham in their last game. The loss of the Brazilian is a huge blow for Liverpool, even more so considering he, potentially, joins Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana on a list of key absentees.
Roberto Firmino could be expected to vacate the number ten role behind a front two of Danny Ings and Christian Benteke. To start three new signings together would be a risk however one Rodgers could be forced into. The services of Jordan Ibe on the wing might also be a possibility while James Milner could be pushed into an attacking midfield role at the expense of the less experienced Firmino, but only if Rodgers has enough trust in young Jordan Rossiter to start him in central midfield.
Both sides in defence
It will be a big game for Daley Blind if the Dutch International is chosen to play in central defence alongside Chris Smalling again. Liverpool’s Christian Benteke will put his physical game to the test and has the ability and power to give an unorthodox centre back, such as Blind, a torrid time.
At the other end of the pitch, Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel will be understandably nervous after their dismal display during the three nil defeat to West Ham. The pair will keen to redeem themselves with Mamadou Sakho pushing them for a spot in the first team. If they are to improve, they will have to do it the hard way with it looking likely they will line up against a Wayne Rooney high in confidence after becoming England’s all-time leading scoring during midweek.
A tough game to predict but one that promises to excite.