Not too long ago, Manchester United and Liverpool came into this fixture with very different ambitions. The former were in the race for the Premier League title every season. The latter, in a constant fight to win back a place in the Champions League. Oh how the tables have turned.
Liverpool are now flying high and are in for a tight battle with Manchester City to win the title. United on the other hand, are 16 points behind and languishing in 6th place. Jose Mourinho knows that it is now or never if he wants to see his side qualify for next season’s Champions League. Here’s the team he looks set to trust to get the job done against their fiercest rivals:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
The only reason De Gea didn’t start on Wednesday was because Mourinho wanted to give him a much needed mental rest. It has been an up and down season for United’s number 1 so far, but there is absolutely no doubt that he is still the Premier League’s best.
His counterpart Allison will be fighting for that title soon, but still has quite a way to go.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw
After Jonesy’s absolute calamity show against Valencia in midweek, one would think it’ll be a while before we see him anywhere near a starting XI. Chris Smalling just signed a new three-year contract with United, and could be an option having returned from injury. However, Victor Lindelöf also traveled with the squad and would probably be preferred over the Englishman.
Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have also traveled with the squad to provide a massive boost to Jose Mourinho. Both should be expected to start over the ageing Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.
Midfielders: Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba
Matic was the only player alongside De Gea to be rested for playing almost every game so far. He will retain his spot and could potentially be paired up with Ander Herrera. The Spaniard almost always shines on the big stage and is a player Mourinho trusts.
Paul Pogba is without a doubt the best midfielder in either of the two teams. He should be starting games like these. His recent form has been below average though, so the question remains as to whether Mourinho will trust him.
Forwards: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard
Martial has been in brilliant goal-scoring form this season and is arguably the reason Mourinho still has a job. His return from injury is a massive boost to a forward line that looked tepid against Valencia.
Mourinho has also claimed that Rashford is untouchable at the moment. The youngster has been in brilliant form and should be preferred to start over Lukaku.
It is a close call between Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard. United look a far better team with Mata in the side and he always turns up against Liverpool. Lingard’s unpredictable movement could be a good counter to Klopp’s pressing tactics, so he just about edges it.
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