Big decision up top: Predicted lineup for Liverpool vs Manchester United

Here’s our predicted lineup for Liverpool as the Reds prepare to face Manchester United. This is one of the toughest this season for Jurgen Klopp.

We think this might be the most difficult lineup of the season. There’s essentially no XI we can pick that we actually like.

Liverpool face Manchester United at Old Trafford knowing they have to win. They’ll almost certainly need to win all of their remaining games to qualify for the top 4, in fact.

So when picking our predicted lineup for Liverpool vs United, we think there are a few things to consider.

United on the counter

We’ll say it again – Liverpool have to win this. A draw will almost certainly see them fail to qualify for the Champions League, such is the competition for that fourth spot.

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United, though, can settle for a point – it doesn’t change much for them. And that suits their side as they love playing on the counter. They’ll want to sit deep, nullify Liverpool and get at the space.

We don’t think Klopp can afford to go with all three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota, then. It’s a front-three that thrives on attacking space themselves but looks blunt when that space isn’t there.

We saw how Real Madrid were happy to take that space away and hit direct, long passes as the Reds pushed up. It just completely nullified Liverpool. United will be very happy to do the same.

Midfield numbers

United have pace out wide and in Luke Shaw, there’s a full-back who is having a very good season. They also have a midfield with players who want space to make things happen.

So we can’t imagine Liverpool will go with a two-man midfield, here. They’ll want numbers in the middle to press, much as they need midfielders to cover the full-backs and protect the wings.

No 4-2-4 this time around, then – surely.

Very best

It sounds obvious but this is a game where Liverpool must try to be at their absolute best from front to back. Not every game is like that.

Against Newcastle United, for instance, Klopp sacrificed midfield and defensive solidity. He did so in order to boost numbers in attack – the only problem was that no one outside of Salah could score.

Photo by David Klein – Pool/Getty Images

For the United game, though, Klopp needs Liverpool to be near-perfect. With that in mind, we imagine he’ll lean towards his tried-and-trusted system.

Liverpool predicted lineup vs Manchester United

Alisson Becker – No doubts about this one, of course.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – The full-back must be a creative force while worrying about Shaw.

Ozan Kabak – Another big game for the youngster as he tries to earn a permanent move.

Fabinho – We’re working on the basis that Nat Phillips isn’t fit for this one. Klopp says everything is ‘all the same‘ injury-wise – so we believe he’ll sit it out.

Andy Robertson – A lot of pressure to create against a United team who will want to sit back.

Gini Wijnaldum – The only guarantee in midfield. Continues to be one of the most-trusted players despite the expiring contract.

Thiago – If Fabinho is in defence, there’s little doubt that the Spaniard will start in midfield.

James Milner – Klopp has loved having the leadership and energy in recent weeks. For such a big game, he’ll surely turn to Milner again.

Roberto Firmino – We expect United to sit deep, meaning the Brazilian’s ability to create space is key. Fingers crossed he can find his best form again.

Sadio Mane – We think he’ll get the nod over Diogo Jota but it’s a tight one. We’ve got to believe he’ll start finding the net again soon.

Mohamed Salah – A sure-fire thing and the only reliable goalscorer right now. Liverpool need him.

Alexander-Arnold – Kabak – Fabinho – Robertson
Thiago – Wijnaldum – Milner
Salah – Firmino – Mane

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