Can Jose Mourinho’s men cause a shock against Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders?
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
- What: Premier League matchweek 17
- When: Sunday 16 December
- Where: Anfield, Liverpool
- Referee: Martin Atkinson
- Kick-off: 4pm (UK time)
- TV channel: live on Sky Sports
Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon believes that the current Premier League leaders are “head and shoulders” above rivals Manchester United.
After 16 matches Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool sit top of the table, one point clear of Manchester City, while Jose Mourinho’s United are sixth, 16 points behind the Merseyside club.
Ex-England international McMahon, who won the title with Liverpool in 1990, told the Daily Mirror: “We are way past United at this stage. United have fallen so below their standards and we have gone above where I think we should be in this short period of time. There is miles of difference between Liverpool and Manchester United.
“We’re now head and shoulders above Manchester United and we should take the game to them, while being patient.
“The atmosphere and the game will be different, but we are favourites.”
‘We have qualities’
Despite being the underdogs and having a major injury crisis United manager Jose Mourinho says whatever team he picks will go to Anfield seeking a victory.
Quoted by the BBC, Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference: “I’m going to try, I always try and I want to play a team that is capable to be with me on that desire and on that ambition and on that confidence.
“We know that we are going to play against the leader [Liverpool], against a team in a high, but we have our qualities, we have our potential.
“Even with the problems we have and the doubts in terms of team choice, of tactics, approach, philosophy, we have doubts about everything.
“We are going to arrive with the players we have available and going to have a team capable of going there and fight for the victory.”
Team news and possible starting XIs
Liverpool team news
The Anfield side could also be facing a defensive injury crisis. The Metro reports that Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out because of a foot injury and he joins Joe Gomez and Joel Matip on the sidelines.
Goal.com says that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp only has two fit senior centre-backs available for Sunday. Dejan Lovren is set to partner Virgil van Dijk. The right-back spot could be filled by James Milner or Nathaniel Clyne, but Milner is also a doubt and will face a late fitness test.
Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are on the long-term injury list.
Liverpool starting XI
How the Reds could line up at Anfield, according to Goal.com.
- Liverpool possible starting XI (4-3-3): Alisson; James Milner, Andy Robertson, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk; Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Naby Keita; Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino
Man Utd team news
Jose Mourinho has a number of selection dilemmas. The Manchester Evening News reports that the United boss could be without nine players on Sunday.
On the injury list are: Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez. Luke Shaw is also an injury doubt.
Despite all the injuries will Mourinho even pick Paul Pogba to start at Anfield? The Daily Mail’s Adam Shergold writes: “The off-field friction is clearly affecting Pogba on the field and it’s difficult to remember the last time he produced a match-defining performance in midfield.
“Matches such as Sunday’s against Liverpool should be relished by Pogba as an opportunity to prove his class. But it looks more likely he’ll be sat in his tracksuit on the bench.”
United starting XI
How the Red Devils could line up at Anfield, according to Goal.com.
- Man Utd possible starting XI (4-3-3): David de Gea; Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly; Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matić, Ander Herrera; Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku
Liverpool vs. Man Utd predictions
Paul Merson, Sky Sports: “I’d be shocked if Liverpool don’t get a result, probably like the rest of the nation! I watched United on Wednesday night, and oh my God. I just cannot see where United win this football match. But that isn’t to say there isn’t huge pressure on Liverpool too, as they have to stay in front. It’s a different pressure now they are top. Prediction: Liverpool to win 2-0.”
Charlie Nicholas, Sky Sports: “These games in the past I would always back Mourinho but, for the life of me, I honestly don’t have a clue what he’s going to do here. He went with quite an attacking team against Man City and they got battered. I can’t honestly see anything other than a Liverpool win. The way United have been playing the only way they could stop Liverpool would be to park the bus and get a 0-0 but I can’t see that happening. Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Man Utd.”
Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport: “The way Liverpool are playing and winning at the moment means everyone is expecting them to beat United, but they have really struggled to get past them at Anfield when Mourinho has been in charge. We know United are capable of producing a decent performance, and we also know that it tends to happen when they are playing a team that is better than them. That is Sunday’s scenario, and I am expecting Mourinho to set his side up to frustrate Liverpool and pinch a point. Prediction: 1-1.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures
Saturday 15 December (3pm unless stated)
- Manchester City vs. Everton (12.30, live on Sky Sports)
- Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City
- Huddersfield Town vs. Newcastle United
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley
- Watford vs. Cardiff City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. AFC Bournemouth
- Fulham vs. West Ham United (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 16 December
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea (1.30pm)
- Southampton vs. Arsenal (1.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Liverpool vs. Manchester United (4pm, live on Sky Sports)