Premier League 2018-19 Preview: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Liverpool have ridden their luck at times but managed to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16, owing to a great deal to the save made by Alisson in the dying moments.
On the other hand, United lost to Valencia, missing out on the top spot. Alarmingly, or not so alarmingly, the defeat came after a ponderous display by United.
On Sunday, Liverpool will be hosting United and will be hoping not to drop any points against a team which is 16 points behind them. Below are few things to look out for in the match.
United need better balance in the midfield and attack
If United want to take something from this game, then they will have to show a lot of ambition going forward and Mourinho might need to think of deploying his side in a 4-3-3 formation to in order to counter Liverpool's midfield.
A midfield of Matic, Fred and Pogba ( at least on paper) might be able to provide plenty of guile and craft to cause Liverpool some problems in the middle of the pitch. Pogba's form is pretty horrible, but he does have a knack for showing up for Big games, and it doesn't get bigger than making a statement against the League Leaders at their home.
Lukaku on his current form will not be causing Van Dijk any problems. In attack, United could start with a mobile front three of Martial, Rashford and Lingard. This would give them a chance to stretch the game on the counter.
Big opportunity for Lovren
Dejan Lovren came back late from the World Cup break and then immediately found himself surplus to requirements. Joe Gomez had found a rich vein of form and was enjoying his role under Van Dijk's tutelage.
Lovren has been limited to only four appearances in the league. But the injury suffered by Gomez has opened the path for Lovren. Strong performances against Man United, Man City and others will make it hard for Klopp to drop Lovren, even after Gomez returns from injury.
Liverpool midfield - Old guard or the new boys?
A lot of debate this season has revolved around the Old Guard: Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum and the new boys: Shaqiri, Kieta, Fabhino. The old guard played and ground out the result against Napoli on Wednesday and all of the new boys were involved in the win against Bournemouth last weekend.
Against Mourinho's team, Shaqiri's creativity might come in handy, if United (as expected) sit deep to deny Salah and Mane to run in behind. A hybrid of the old and new might just hold the key this weekend.
Liverpool: Allisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner ,Shaqiri; Salah, Firmino.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young; Matic, Pogba, Fred; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.