BBC Football pundit Mark Lawrenson has been giving his thoughts ahead of Manchester United hosting Premier League title hopefuls Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, saying players keeping their discipline will be key, and Naby Keita should take note.
Well, the Reds legend was delivering his weekly predictions – 1-1 in this case – for the upcoming matches in the English top flight, and he unsurprisingly had plenty to say about the clash at ‘The Theatre of Dreams’.
The visitors are looking for a positive result in their battle with Manchester City to win their first-ever Premier League trophy, while the Red Devils are a side reborn under the leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent months.
With a big rivalry between the two, Lawrenson issued a warning via the BBC: “They have to deal with the history of the whole Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry, and everything that goes with it, as well as United’s recent revival. The atmosphere at Old Trafford will be white-hot.
“To come away with anything, the Reds will have to keep their heads.
“I know from playing in this fixture myself that the tackles will be flying in, so discipline is vital. No-one can afford to make a stupid lunge at someone early on because they will get sent off for it.”
In one word, Keita.
While teammates Jordan Henderson and James Milner are guilty of losing their heads at times – see their dismissals this season – they both have the experience of playing at Old Trafford and know what they need to do to stay on the pitch.
It isn’t the same with the Guinea international, who will be making first appearance away against United and is still in a transitional period where he is looking to prove that he should be a regular starter in the Liverpool midfield.
He hasn’t picked up a single booking in 19 Premier League outings this season, but he has committed 21 fouls and was also sent off on three occasions for Red Bull Leipzig last term.
When you are a player looking to make an impact on the biggest stage, he could be in danger on Sunday of letting his enthusiasm get the better of him.