Matches between Manchester United and Liverpool are traditionally decided by small margins and a single player can often emerge as a hero. But who will stand out this Saturday afternoon? Here, our team of writers focus on the men who might be influential at Anfield…
DAVID DE GEA
ManUtd.com’s Adam Marshall: We’re all hoping our super Spaniard won’t be too busy, but we know we can rely on him as the last line of defence. He made a couple of stunning saves in last year’s 0-0 draw at Anfield – they’re worth watching again – and he’s also in the form of his life. Having successfully qualified for the World Cup with his country, keeping his 10th clean sheet of the campaign in the process, David can continue furthering his claim to be the world’s best goalkeeper.
ManUtd.com’s Joe Ganley: Liverpool are averaging 2.4 goals per game at home this season, so halting Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring strikeforce will be critical. De Gea usually delivers something superhuman here, but the Reds’ defence must also be stoic and protect him. Bailly is a brave, bold and decisive presence at the heart of Jose Mourinho’s backline – qualities which should suit this famously high-octane fixture. The Ivorian could also influence matters in the opposition box: Liverpool conceded 12 Premier League goals from set-pieces last season and United defenders (Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister, John O’Shea, Rafael) have a habit of scoring at Anfield.
ManUtd.com’s Mark Froggatt: Liverpool held 65 per cent of the possession in last season’s 0-0 draw at Anfield and I expect a similar proportion on Saturday, with United ready to pounce on the counter attack. Pace and drive is central to that tactic, but so too is reclaiming the ball and Matic is a master at that. He’s executed 14 tackles in the Premier League this season – more than any other Red – and we saw how the Serbian can trigger a breakaway goal against West Ham on the opening day. His role will be simple and effective: win the ball, unleash the speed.
United Review editor Paul Davies: Last season’s Player of the Year, and our Man of the Match in the stalemate at Liverpool 12 months ago, has played a supporting role in 2017/18 due to the outstanding form of others. But with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini likely sidelined, it could be the Spaniard buzzing about alongside Matic. There will be periods of this match, although hopefully not as many as a year ago, when United will need to soak up pressure before launching into attack, and who better to be tearing around causing a nuisance than Herrera – a player who is adored for his high-energy, committed performances.
ManUtd.com’s Matt Bullin: The impact our new no.9 has made is nothing short of remarkable. Lukaku has scored seven goals in his first seven Premier League outings for the Reds, and few will bet against him continuing that run against Liverpool’s defence on Saturday. The Belgian has previous against the Merseysiders, having scored five goals in 13 games against them, and he will look to use his impressive power and pace to cause problems for a backline, which is likely to be without centre-back Dejan Lovren.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
United fans took to Twitter in their droves to let us know who they believe will be key using the #MUTalkingPoint hashtag. Here’s a selection of the best responses…
@saurabhdudi: Matic will be the key man intercepting their attacks and providing passes to our creative players.
@akshaymufc: With Pogba & Fellaini injured, Herrera & Matic are key to winning the midfield battle away at Anfield.
@twink_mufc: It’s Juan, Juan, Juan.
@KelvzEmm: Herrera is my key man. He’ll slot in the midfield alongside Matic and will dictate the game with his passing and leadership
@FrancisMumba19: The key man at Anfield will be Nemanja Matic. And Martial should start.
@Lylle_Rigney: Martial and Rashford are both in form right now, so why not start both of them.
@OrelAsaraf: Antonio Valencia, the man has been in form, amazing defender with passion.
@nightwingYima: Matic and Herrera. Their breakup & transition play in midfield will be key. Trust the attackers to finish at least two chances.
@DinoKordic: Herrera must have great game if we want to do good. Wings must be fast and lethal and Lukaku must be strong and dangerous.
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