All eyes on the big one at An­field

Foot­ball fans gear­ing up for nail-bit­ing clash between Liver­pool, Man United

The Herald (South Africa) - - SPORT -

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 to­mor­row.

Ac­cord­ing to Sky Sports, their play­ers clocked up 224 000km 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, who won their 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 their big­gest test of the sea­son to date.

Liver­pool’s form has been less impressive and Jur­gen Klopp’s side, be­set by de­fen­sive problems, are seven points off the sear­ing pace be­ing set by the two Manch­ester ri­vals.

They are also with­out a Premier League vic­tory over bit­ter ad­ver­saries United in their last six meet­ings, but Mourinho says re­cent his­tory will have no bear­ing to­mor­row.

“Th­ese kind of matches, ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment plays a part,” Mourinho said.

“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 in­jured.

All eyes will now be on free-scor­ing United for­ward Romelu Lukaku, who has been in fine form for his new club.

Liver­pool have a po­ten­tially more sig­nif­i­cant ab­sen­tee than Pogba, how­ever, with for­ward Sa­dio Mane fac­ing a six-week lay­off af­ter in­jur­ing his ham­string rep­re­sent­ing Sene­gal.

City, who have built up a goal dif­fer­ence of plus 20 dur­ing a stun­ning start to the cam­paign, host Stoke City.

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, in third place, will at­tempt to lay their Wem­b­ley jinx in the league at the fourth time of ask­ing as they host Bournemouth, while fourth-placed cham­pi­ons Chelsea, beaten by City be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break, visit Crys­tal Palace.

Tooth­less Palace are the first topflight side to lose their 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 are at Wat­ford, while Burn­ley, the sur­prise pack­age so far in sixth, will fancy their chances when they tackle West Ham United at Turf Moor.

Ever­ton travel to Brighton & Hove Al­bion on Sun­day. – Reuters

Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES/LAU­RENCE GRIFFITHS

FINE FORM: Romelu Lukaku is ex­pected to play a key role for Manch­ester United

JUR­GEN KLOPP

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