Liverpool face Manchester United this Saturday in the Premier League’s latest instalment of the Northwest derby, and the mere two-point gap between the bitter rivals in the table only adds further motivation for what will be a fiercely competitive fixture.
But which Reds stars will be most crucial to claiming a positive result in the 12.30pm kickoff at Old Trafford? Will it all be down to the Premier League’s joint-top scorer Mohamed Salah, or could someone else have a decisive impact? Football FanCast’s writers have their say…
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been Liverpool’s most influential driving force from midfield in recent weeks, including last time out in the Premier League against Newcastle when he picked up the Man of the Match award after surging forward from the engine room to supply Salah for the opening goal.
And should Paul Pogba once again struggle to provide the necessary defensive discipline in the middle of the park alongside Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, Jurgen Klopp will expect the England international to take advantage, his ability to break forward with powerful runs representing the key link between the midfield and the attack.
Inevitably, Liverpool’s front three will pick up the plaudits, but most Premier League games are lost and won in midfield and it’s Oxlade-Chamberlain who can get the Reds going on the break.
Liverpool’s most important player has always appeared to be Salah this season, and perhaps he will be yet again this weekend.
The Egyptian has definitely been one of the best in the league, but this is an opposition with a different skill set to the other top six outfits that Jurgen Klopp’s side have faced this season. At Anfield earlier in the campaign, the game ended 0-0 after Jose Mourinho parked the bus and United came away with the point they came for.
This time, you’d hope United will attack a little bit more, but don’t count on it. And if Liverpool are to break them down and fashion a chance for the in-form Salah, they might well be relying on the unsung link-up play of Roberto Firmino to make that happen.
It’s obvious but it’s Salah.
Who to choose at left-back is the biggest selection dilemma Mourinho faces and whether it’s Luke Shaw or Ashley Young, neither look suited to keeping the Egyptian quiet.
Mourinho will instruct his men to defend deep in order to limit the space available to Salah but he’s too good, too quick and too clinical to not have an impact on this game. David de Gea will need to be on top form because Salah will get chances.
While Salah has been brilliant this season, he probably wouldn’t be doing so well without playing alongside Firmino. Salah will be a marked man at Old Trafford on Saturday and that could give Firmino a little more time and space to add to his 13 goals and seven assists in the Premier League this season.
With United’s centre-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof far from convincing, the Brazil international could have a huge role to play in helping his side pick up the positive result they want.
Who do you think will have the biggest impact at Old Trafford, Liverpool fans? Let us know by commenting below…