Reds out to halt United
Liverpool host Man U as rivals look to hit ground running after international break
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.
Sky Sports reported their players clocked up 224000km 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 Jürgen 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 absent with an injury.
Liverpool have a potentially more significant absentee, however, with forward Sadio Mane facing a sixweek lay off 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 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 their Wembley jinx in the league at the fourth time of asking as they host Bournemouth, while fourth-placed champions Chelsea visit Crystal Palace, 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 of when they tackle West Ham at Turf Moor. – Reuters
LITTLE MAGICIAN: Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. RUTHLESS: Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku.