LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER UNITED: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool host Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United side tomorrow night in what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Anfield. 10 points separate United in third and Liverpool in sixth heading into the clash. Here’s how we expect Jürgen Klopp to line his side up for the encounter. For a match preview, you can head over here.
The manager in his pre-match press conference confirmed no new injuries, with Gomez, Thiago, Arthur and Luis Diaz remaining on the sidelines. It is still a healthy enough squad to face the challenge ahead, with a few tough decisions to make when picking a starting XI.
In goal will be Alisson Becker. The Brazilian shotstopper has now kept four clean sheets in his last five league games to move on to nine for the campaign. Could he make a late run for what would be his third Golden Glove award? Only de Gea (10), Ramsdale (11) and Pope (12) lead him in the standings.
In defence, we should see just the one change. Kostas Tsimikas filled in well against Wolves and took his tally of assists to six for the campaign after a brilliant run and cutback for Salah. Andy Robertson will be restored however, with the Scot hopefully benefiting from the rest.
The most intriguing battle on the day will certainly be the one between Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford. Rashford has been blazing hot since the World Cup, registering 21 goal contributions (17 goals, 4 assists) in just 20 appearances. He will be the latest in a long line of wide attackers to target the Scouser.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the manager plans to stop United’s topscorer. It will have to be a team effort as Trent’s best work is done on the ball rather than off it. Konaté as the right sided centre back will have to come across and cover his fullback.
In midfield, we should again see just the one change as Jordan Henderson returns to the side ahead of Harvey Elliott. The skipper’s energy, intensity and leadership will certainly be required against an in-form United side. He will also be tasked with helping Trent out defensively.
Fabinho and Bajcetic will take their place alongside the 32 year old. This trio has become the de-facto first choice following young Stefan’s rise and Thiago’s injury. As a trio, they will have to work in tandem to win the midfield battle against Casemiro, Fred and Bruno Fernandes.
Upfront, the manager has a decision to make on who starts through the middle. Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah are presently set in stone as the first choice wide forwards. It is then a toss up between Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino for the ‘false nine’ role.
It was revealed yesterday that Bobby will be looking for pastures new when his contract with the club expires in the summer. This has seen an outpouring of tributes from fans but that is a tad premature. There is still a third of the season to play, after which the fan favourite will be granted an emotional sendoff.
For now though, focus must be on the task at hand. Does Bobby get the nod? Or does Gakpo return to the XI after being handed a breather against Wolves. Bar Wednesday’s victory over Wolves, the Dutchman has started every single game he’s been available for since joining the club.
Signed as a left winger from PSV Eindhoven in January, he’s found his niche as a false nine in the mould of the affable Firmino. If he can keep developing in this role, the club might not even bother to replace the man who made the role his own for almost a decade.
There’s also the option of Diogo Jota. The Portuguese international has started each of the last two games as he continues working towards peak form and fitness. He set up the opening goal for Van Dijk last time out and looked like he was getting sharper by the minute.
A third start in a week might be ill advised, and with Firmino yet to start a game since his own return from injury, it is safe to assume Gakpo will get the nod. He’s been building an understanding with Darwin and Salah and will have to be at his best to get the better of Varane and Martinez.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Bajcetic, Salah, Gakpo, Darwin.
Subs: Kelleher, Matip, Tsimikas, Elliott, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jota, Firmino, Carvalho.