Tonight Anfield plays host to one of the most highly anticipated fixtures in the footballing calendar, Liverpool vs Manchester United.
This game in some ways has been overshadowed by the managers in the dugout.
It is the first time Jose Mourinho will face Liverpool as United manager. He will be looking to right the wrongs from their defeat to Manchester City earlier on in the season. That game saw City win the encounter tactically in an extremely impressive performance in their respect, not so for United.
Jurgen Klopp though is under much less pressure at the moment after a wonderful start to the season with victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and champions Leicester, with their only defeat of the season coming against Burnley in what was a lacklustre showing from Klopp’s men.
A continued groin problem for Adam Lallana means that he is set to miss out once again for Liverpool, as well as Georginio Wijnaldum who was injured whilst on international duty with his national side, Netherlands.
Manchester United have been boosted in the build-up to the big game with the news that both Henrik Mkhititaryan and Luke Shaw have been passed fit after returning from their injuries.
Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp refused to play down the stature of this fixture and what it means for his side during his pre-match press conference:
At the end, it’s up to us to perform to our best. You cannot and should not ignore the special circumstance of a game like this. You have to be ready.
While Jose Mourinho used his pre-match news conference to comment on Anthony Taylor officiating the game, a referee who was born in Manchester:
I think Mr Taylor is a very good referee, but I think somebody with intention is putting such a pressure on him that I feel it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance.
14 December 2014 – Manchester United 3 – 0 Liverpool (Premier League)
22 March 2015 – Liverpool 1 – 2 Manchester United (Premier League)
12 September 2015 – Manchester United 3 – 1 Liverpool (Premier League)
17 January 2016 – Liverpool 0 – 1 Manchester United (Premier League)
10 March 2016 – Liverpool 2 – 0 Manchester United (Europa League Round of 16)
17 March 2016 – Manchester United 1 – 1 Liverpool (Europa League Round of 16)
This is one of those games which is extraordinarily difficult to call. With Liverpool’s exceptional record against the so-called top teams in recent times, compared to United’s abundance in quality and match winners.
All things considered, I fancy Liverpool to get the best of their rivals with a 3-1 victory. The atmosphere has the potential to be overwhelming in the newly extended Anfield which is sure to play its part to some extent.
With Manchester City’s high pressure football playing its part in their victory against United recently, I can see Liverpool using similar tactics which has become the striking image of any Jurgen Klopp side during his managerial career so far.
Whatever the outcome of the game is, expect to see a high quality encounter with two top teams. This has been the newfound trend of the big games so far this season, with all of England’s elite clubs advancing to the next level to make competition for the league title as unpredictable and as exciting as it’s ever been.
Feature image credit: Anfield Justice