Manchester United against Liverpool is still the greatest fixture in the Premier League calendar, pitting together the country’s two biggest and most successful clubs.
Mail on Sunday columnist and former Liverpool and England star DANNY MURPHY, who scored the winner in it three times, assesses where the match at Old Trafford could be won and lost...
Liverpool may be vulnerable against Manchester United if Marcus Rashford runs in behind
RASHFORD v ALEXANDER-ARNOLD
There aren’t many ways United can trouble this Liverpool defence but gambling on Marcus Rashford to take on Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of them. I remember Rashford scoring twice when United won at Old Trafford two seasons ago under Jose Mourinho. He was encouraged to stay upfield and run in behind rather than track the Liverpool full-backs.
Rashford seems to get joy playing down the left side of a 4-3-3. The question is whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bold enough to tell Rashford to let Alexander-Arnold go so that he’ll have space on the counter.
And whether United see enough of the ball for Rashford to stand up to Alexander-Arnold one-on-one. The pair are friends as well so there will be a lot of personal pride in who comes out on top, as well as the enormity of the game.
It is worth Solskjaer taking that risk, it’s one of the few attacking weapons he has in a team struggling for goals. If Alexander-Arnold is a bit stranded, Liverpool will rely on Jordan Henderson getting across to cover, but if United can get the ball into Rashford high up and early, he won’t be caught.
Anthony Martial could also pressurise Liverpool's right flank if he is to start
If Anthony Martial starts in the middle, he also likes drifting to the left during the game and that would put even more pressure on that side of Liverpool’s defence. I remember Thierry Henry and Roberto Pires doubling up on the left for Arsenal at times and causing difficulty.
I even wonder if Jurgen Klopp may play Joe Gomez as the right-sided central defender for his extra pace. That’s no reflection on Joel Matip’s form — he has been outstanding — but for this fixture, Gomez is a consideration. United could go 4-4-2 or a diamond to try and surprise Liverpool but, when a team is low on confidence, jiggling about with new systems doesn’t always work.
I think United will stick to 4-3-3 but that right side of Liverpool’s defence is maybe vulnerable if United are bold enough to leave Rashford up to find gaps.
MANE v WAN-BISSAKA
Sadio Mane has been Liverpool’s best player this season and probably the best in the Premier League. He has become better than I ever thought he would, offensively and defensively.
Having said that, if there is one full-back capable of matching him physically, it is Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He looks brilliant defensively which isn’t that common for full-backs in the modern era.
Assuming Sadio Mane starts on the left then Aaron Wan-Bissaka will have his hands full
Klopp does have options, he could move Mane more centrally away from Wan-Bissaka and play Roberto Firmino on the left — but I have a feeling Liverpool’s mentality at the moment is they aren’t going to shift around because they fear United.
Assuming Mane is on the left, Wan-Bissaka will have his hands full. He is as quick and good in the tackle as any defender Mane will face this season. The great thing about Mane is that if Wan-Bissaka tries to get forward, the Liverpool winger doesn’t mind doing the hard yards to stop him.
McTOMINAY v HENDERSON
There are similarities between the pair. Midfielders with great physical attributes, tenacity getting around the pitch and technically good footballers.
I suspect with Paul Pogba’s injury, Nemanja Matic and Fabinho may be the deepest of the midfielders for either side and Henderson and McTominay could come into some direct competition — the master and the apprentice.
Henderson has shown in the