What to expect when the Red Devils visit Anfield

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on October 2, 2016 in Manchester, England.
All rights reserved by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Europe

Daniel More explains what to expect when Manchester United visit Anfield on Monday night.

Let’s face it, the ‘Red Devils’ from Old Trafford are now a mere shadow of their old dominant selves under Fergie. Manchester United had a reasonably dismal last game against Stoke City at Old Trafford, failing to get the ball past the visiting keeper Lee Grant until the 69th minute when Martial curled one into the net.

Much to my disgust, that goal had my two Manchester United mates clapping and cheering at the telly. In the 81st minute, it was my turn to clap and cheer when wee Joe Allen scrambled in a sweaty equaliser. So it was 1 point for the Devils before the international break.

Mourinho’s start to the season hasn’t been as good as Klopp’s, with the ‘Special One’ sitting in sixth with 13 points. Compare that to our beloved smiley German and he seems to be in a better place, despite a few tougher fixtures. Liverpool is sitting in fourth with a solid 16 points. They have beaten opponents such as Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and have drawn at Tottenham, with most games being played away from home.

Liverpool’s last game, in my opinion, was their most impressive game so far this season, showing great heart and passion to pick themselves up and come back from a goal down at half-time to win the game 2-1. It must have been some halftime speech from Klopp, but I don’t think that Liverpool’s team last year would have had the guts to grind back a win away from home.

Manchester’s midfield has undergone some a reshuffle and is yet to find its best combination. They have binned Rooney for the time being and brought in Mata. He is a more threatening player and much more active and precise with the ball. This has been the case for a while now and Mourinho has finally told Wayne to take a seat.

Paul Pogba is yet to settle in and it shows with his shots not hitting the mark and not always getting away his passes. It is the Premier League and I’m sure it’s a bit tougher than what he is used to domestically, but seriously, a player worth £90 million should be able to perform better than he has been so far.

I just really hope that Pogba doesn’t get into his groove at Anfield this week. He won’t find it easy with the home team’s midfield showing some amazing displays of pressing and passing. Liverpool’s midfield, however, will be without Wijnaldum and Lallana due to injuries. Emre Can will most likely be one replacement as he is back from a lengthy injury and itching to showcase his skills and cement his place in the future line up.

Henderson has been absolute class this season and has stepped up and filled the captain’s armband well. Pogba could take some lessons on bossing the midfield from the Englishman, who has recently received captaincy of the national team. Who did he take it from? Wayne Rooney. This is just one of the many things to hint a shift of momentum towards the men on the Mersey.

Manchester’s attack looks good. Martial, Rashford and Ibrahimovic, who scares the sh*t out of me are all capable forwards. Any ball that comes Zlatan’s way can be sent towards goal at an alarming speed – no matter what angle, no matter how awkward. He is human, though, as he isn’t doing his best at present and his moments of brilliance are getting fewer and further apart.

That being said, he is the type of player to have you question his free transfer for 89 minutes and then boom, out of nowhere, he scores a bicycle kick from outside the box. With Liverpool’s suffocating pressing, they may restrict the service he requires to score.

Liverpool’s attack, on the other hand, doesn’t have a main man or a lead scorer. They work the ball amongst themselves with slick passes and darting runs and operating like a machine pumping out goals everywhere. With the likes of Mane and Coutinho running off Firmino, it’s a proven recipe for goals. Let’s not forget that with Sturridge and Origi on the bench, the team is more than capable of bulging the net.

With both teams having plenty of firepower, it comes down to the respective goalkeepers and defence to keep the ball out of their net. Manchester United’s defence is okay. They have Bailly, Smalling and DeGea who seem solid enough, but Watford managed to score three goals against them.

Liverpool’s defence is a bit of an issue. It’s getting better, but there is still one particular issue plaguing the Reds. Set pieces. With a new keeper and new defenders in the mix, it seems to have improved and Liverpool might get their first clean sheet.

Mignolet was dropped to the bench after Loris Karius recovered from his broken hand and took his spot. During the time Karius was injured, Mignolet seemed to step up to the challenge and commanded his box well and made a few great punches, which isn’t like him at all.

The Belgian ‘keeper will probably deal with Manchester better as he is already used to the league. Mignolet’s best attribute is that he is a great shot-stopper and it seems that will be needed come match day with the likes of Ibrahimovic sniffing around.

Final score 4-1 to Liverpool. COME ON YOU REDS!

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