Liverpool out to halt United’s charge in Anfield showdown
Liverpool and Manchester United’s globe-trotting squads must shake off the effects of international duty for one of English football’s most eagerly-anticipated clashes on Saturday.
According to Sky Sports their players clocked up 139,000 miles taking part in World Cup qualifiers since the last Premier League action, but all roads lead to Anfield as the English top flight resumes after a two-week hiatus with a potential cracker.
The stoppage was badly-timed for United which won its last three Premier League games with nine goals scored and none conceded, albeit against sides in the lower half of the table.
Jose Mourinho’s side, joint leaders on 19 points from seven games with Manchester City, will hope to continue that momentum in what will be its biggest test of the season to date.
Liverpool’s form has been less impressive and Juergen Klopp’s side, beset by defensive problems, is seven points off the searing pace being set by the two Manchester rivals.
Liverpool is also without a Premier League victory over bitter adversaries United in their last six meetings but Mourinho says recent history will have no bearing on Saturday.
“These kind of matches, every single moment plays a part,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “We are playing against a good team with very good players. Form doesn’t matter, the moment doesn’t matter. It’s a match of three points.”
United will be missing midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who hurt his knee playing for Belgium against Bosnia, while Paul Pogba is still absent with an injury.
Liverpool has a potentially more significant absentee, however, with forward Sadio Mane facing a six-week layoff after injuring his hamstring representing Senegal. A NEW CHAPTER In the rivalry between Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (right) and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will be written on Saturday when their teams meet at Anfield in Premier League action.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has three wins to his name with three other games against Mourinho ending in draws - including both Premier League meetings last season during Mourinho’s first season at the Old Trafford helm having replaced Louis van Gaal.
The charismatic German has clearly enjoyed pitting his wits against Mourinho on the pitch and while there is a healthy respect between them, there is also an edge that Saturday’s north west showdown is likely to sharpen.
During the draw at Old Trafford in January the managers confronted each other in the technical area with Mourinho suggesting afterwards that Klopp concentrate on coaching his team rather than waving his arms about.
The presence of Klopp and Mourinho in rival dugouts on Saturday adds another level of intrigue to a fixture between two clubs with 38 league English titles between them.
City, which has built up a goal difference of plus 20 during a stunning start to the campaign, hosts Stoke City with striker Sergio Aguero possibly in contention for a squad place after recovering from injuring his ribs in a car accident last month.
Tottenham Hotspur, in third place, will attempt to lay its Wembley jinx in the league at the fourth time of asking as it hostsBournemouth, while fourthplaced champion Chelsea, beaten by City before the international break, visits Crystal Palace.
Toothless Palace is the first top-flight side to lose is opening seven games since Portsmouth in 2009 and the first in 129 years of the Football League to do so without scoring.
Fifth-placed Arsenal is at Watford, while Burnley, the surprise package so far in sixth, will fancy its chances of when its tackles West Ham United at Turf Moor.
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has leapfrogged Everton’s Ronald Koeman as favorite to be the next managerial casualty after his side’s woeful start. Koeman’s side travels to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. (Reuters)