Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of Lallana and Wijnaldum heading into the game, with the latter having a slightly better chance of a start. If both were out it’d be a big weakening, though they do have depth to cope. Philippe Coutinho is set to drop deeper into midfield, opening up room for Sturridge to come into the front three. Clyne and Lovren are fit, with an unchanged back four likely. They’re in excellent form heading into the game, having won five in a row in all competitions, making for superb confidence in the squad. They’ll fully believe they can beat Man Utd and in such a big game will have great support from the stands. Klopp has pointed to home advantage as a big factor and would be slightly disappointed not to take all three points to continue their good run of results. A draw wouldn’t be a disaster, but if the game is level late on there is a good chance of it naturally opening up, as Liverpool aren’t a side to sit in and play for a point. They’ve got the personnel and ability to cope with an open game, though the potential absence of Lallana would hurt in midfield. They aren’t keeping clean sheets, but have enough threat up front to win even if they concede.
Man Utd have a near fully fit squad to face Liverpool, with just fringe player Jones out injured. Shaw and Mkhitaryan return from injury, but neither are set to start, with Blind keeping his place in the line up at left back. Just one change is expected as Martial is set to displace Lingard in the attacking midfield, but there’s no room for Rooney once again, who is only likely to make the bench. Travelling to Anfield and taking all three points will be the objective for Man Utd and they have recent history on their side, having won the last four league meetings between the clubs, though this is the first time Mourinho has led them into the derby. A draw isn’t a poor result against a very in form opponent, but it’s unlikely they set up really cautiously and only seek to play for a point. They’ve found the net in every league game so far this season, so will fancy their chances of scoring against an opponent yet to keep a clean sheet. Set pieces will be targeted as an area they can hurt Liverpool, but with their attacking ability they’ll threaten from open play too. If they can get ahead they’ll be more confident of winning, as if they need to chase it suits Liverpool more.
Verdict & Prediction
Having come from behind to win in their previous match confidence is very high in the Liverpool squad, who are unbeaten in seven, winning five in a row. They’ll believe a win over Man Utd is achievable, especially in front of their own fans, who will offer superb backing in this local derby. Man Utd were disappointed not to close out their game with Stoke before the international break, so will be determined to bounce back to winning ways against local rivals Liverpool. To earn a win at an in-form opponent would be a big statement, but one the players firmly believe they can make. I expect an open game with plenty of goals.
Prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 2.02 SBOBET