Reds out to halt United

Liver­pool host Man U as ri­vals look to hit ground run­ning after in­ter­na­tional break

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

LIVER­POOL and Manch­ester United’s globe­trot­ting 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 two­week 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 fourth­placed 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.

Fifth­placed 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

It will be a big chal­lenge for us, but we have enough to do well. This is a home match that we should win and sure, we had Sa­dio in our plans. But there is Stur­ridge, who came on in the last match and did well. Firmino is do­ing well and so is Coutinho. We have to find the right mix.” We have to prove noth­ing. We have our ob­jec­tives for the sea­son, we know where we want to go and how we have to go. This is press talk, or pun­dit talk. You can say we have not played one of the top five teams but last sea­son we did not beat West Ham or Ever­ton at home.”

PIC­TURE: DPPI PIC­TURE: REUTERS

LIT­TLE MA­GI­CIAN: Liver­pool mid­fielder Philippe Coutinho. RUTH­LESS: Manch­ester United striker Romelu Lukaku.

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