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    Liverpool vs Manchester United Match Preview


    One of the biggest games in world football takes place this weekend as Liverpool and Manchester United, England's two most successful clubs, meet at Anfield in a potentially mouth-watering encounter.

    While both teams began the season in blistering fashion, it has been 20-time champions United who have transferred their August form into the months of September and October with nine wins from 10 matches in all competitions.

    Liverpool, winners of 18 top-flight titles, have only won one of their last seven games since a 4-0 win over Arsenal in late-August and the club could lose further ground in the Premier League table this weekend if they lose to their fiercest rivals.

    Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp recently celebrated the second anniversary of his appointment as Liverpool manager but there remains much debate as to whether The Reds are in a healthier position now to what they were upon his appointment in October 2015.

    His critics will point to the fact that the club have finished a respective 21 and 17 points behind the eventual champions from his two seasons in charge, while they have also failed to collect any silverware in the process to soften the blow.

    The counter-argument is that the German has delivered Champions League football to a club for only the second time in eight seasons and has achieved that feat with an exciting brand of attacking football, which has been rich in pace and energy.

    Liverpool's faltering pursuit of a first title since 1990 will take a further blow this weekend if United win at Anfield to open up a 10-point lead over their rivals, with leaders Manchester City also heavily favoured to beat Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium.

    While Klopp's side have struggled against the likes of Spartak Moscow, Burnley and Newcastle so far this season, it has traditionally been matches against Premier League's heavyweights which have allowed the club to showcase their big-match temperament.

    Defeat against Saturday's opponents at Anfield in January 2016 sparked a 21-month unbeaten run against other members of the Premier League's so-called "big-seven" clubs but that sequence came to spectacular halt last month with a 5-0 loss to leaders Manchester City.

    The Reds have struggled to repeat their early-season form since that devastating defeat on September 9 and their chances of recording a morale-boosting win this weekend have not been improved by the international break.

    Sadio Mane has been ruled-out after sustaining a hamstring injury in Senegal's 2-0 win against Cape Verde, while both Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are expected to feature despite having a long flight back to England from Brazil.

    Manchester United

    Although it is still very early in the season, it seems difficult to believe that Manchester United will not be in the thick of the title-race come the end of the campaign as well as challenging for other major honours both domestically and in Europe.

    Jose Mourinho, who was appointed manager in the summer of 2016, has famously never failed to win a domestic title during his second season in each of his five previous managerial tenures at FC Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

    The Portuguese boss has created a winning mentality amongst his current charges having guided the club towards the Community Shield, EFL Cup and Europa League last season before reshaping the squad in his own image during the summer.

    Romelu Lukaku has already scored 16 goals in 13 games for club and country this season since his £75 million move from Everton, while Nemanja Matic seems to have been given a new lease of life since his £40 million transfer from champions Chelsea.

    Although Mourinho's side lacked a ruthless streak last season, which resulted in 15 draws in the league and the surrender of many points from winning positions, the clubs have started to rectify those shortfalls in spectacular fashion.

    The Red Devils have already scored 33 goals from 11 matches in all competitions, while the club have now made their best start to a league season since 2011 when Sir Alex Ferguson's side also collected 19 points from a possible 21.

    United needed to demonstrate a steely side, however, in a hard-fought 1-0 win against Southampton three weeks ago, which was the fifth of six clean sheets that the club have achieved in the league after only seven games.

    This United team appears to combine the flair that was prevalent in the Sir Alex Ferguson era, which was temporarily absent during the reign of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, with the resilience that Mourinho installed into his Chelsea sides during his two stints in London.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool's preparations for Saturday's encounter have been disrupted by the news that Sadio Mane has been ruled out of action for the next six weeks after picking-up a hamstring injury while representing Senegal on international duty.

    Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino also played for their country during the international break but the Brazilian duo are expected to feature this weekend despite a long journey back from Sao Paulo in midweek.

    Firmino is set to replace Daniel Sturridge in attack after the England striker received a rare starting berth in the recent 1-1 draw against Newcastle, while Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum will battle it out for a spot in central midfield.

    There are still no returns, however, for either Adam Lallana (thigh) or Nathaniel Clyne (back), who have both been unable to feature for the club this campaign after sustaining injuries during pre-season.

    Manchester United Team News

    Manchester United were also dealt a blow during the international break after Marouane Fellaini picked-up a knee ligament injury in Belgium's 4-3 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and is expected to miss the next couple of weeks.

    Romelu Lukaku, who scored as a substitute in his country's 4-0 win over Cyprus, is expected to recover from an ankle problem in time to play, while Phil Jones should also be fit having been ruled-out of England's recent matches against Slovenia and Lithuania with a knee injury.

    One player who is rumoured to be making a quicker return from injury than previously expected is Paul Pogba, with reports suggesting that the midfielder could return from a hamstring problem in time for the trip to Swansea on October 24.

    Michael Carrick (calf) also remains unavailable, while Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are not expected to be back in action until at least December having been ruled-out with respective anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

    Head-to-head

    The last three matches between the sides have been drawn, with Liverpool securing the result they needed at Old Trafford in March 2016 to send them through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League on aggregate before both of last season's encounters also ended level.

    Manchester United have by far the better record in the head-to-head this decade having won 11 and drawn four of the 20 encounters against Liverpool since 2010, which included four successive league victories under the management of Louis van Gaal.

    United also lead the way in terms of Premier League victories, with 27 wins and 10 draws compared with Liverpool's 13 victories, while the sides have also faced each other in the finals of the 1996 FA Cup (won by United) and the 2003 League Cup (won by Liverpool).

    The overall head-to-head, which saw its first meeting in a Test Match in 1894, sees United also ahead with 75 wins to Liverpool's 87, although 64 of the 226 encounters between the two clubs have ended in draws.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Manchester United Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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