One of the most-anticipated games of the season this Sunday sees Liverpool host Manchester United in a battle that will have a say who finishes in the top four this season.
Manchester United start the weekend with a two-point advantage over their north west rivals but with arguably a much tougher remaining schedule. Many people simply feel this is a must not lose game for Louis van Gaal’s side if they want UEFA Champions League football next season.
Liverpool are the form team of 2015 and the bookmakers’ favourites, winning eight of their last nine in the league and keeping seven clean sheets during this run.
Jon Flanagan and Lucas have returned to first team training recently but this game may come too early for the Brazilian, whilst the young English full-back is unlikely to be part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
Jordon Ibe is the only player ruled out of the game for the home side.
Robin van Persie remains sidelined for Manchester United which has forced Louis van Gaal to stick Wayne Rooney up as the sole striker in recent games.
United welcome back Ángel Di María from suspension whom could go straight back into the starting lineup at the expense of Juan Mata.
Jonny Evans continues his six-game suspension whilst Marcos Rojo is a doubt. Luke Shaw should make his return at left-back.
This side has been playing very well of late for Brendan Rodgers and it’s hard to see him making any changes. Adam Lallana is another option in the front three but after a poor showing on Monday we can see him being back amongst the substitutes.
Luke Shaw can return at left-back although this would leave Daley Blind out of the starting XI. Michael Carrick and Juan Mata’s performances last weekend should see them keep their places – much will then be made of Di María only returning to the subs bench. The Argentine has been out of form for a while anyway.
Philippe Coutinho vs Antonio Valencia
The makeshift Manchester United right-back has had his troubles this season and is set to face one of the Premier League’s star players of the 2014-15 season. Philippe Coutinho has only been involved in eight goals this season, which is less than many would think given his involvement in the games. Liking to collect the ball from deep and shoot from long range, the Brazilian playmaker is capable of terrorising Antonio Valencia in creating chances for his supporting cast and himself.
Daniel Sturridge vs Phil Jones
The Manchester United centre-back looked shaky to begin last weekend’s game but kept a clean sheet on the virtue that Tottenham didn’t get a shot in until the 89th minute. Liverpool won’t be so kind on the United defence and whilst Daniel Sturridge hasn’t returned with a flurry of goals he’s always a massive threat. With Coutinho on the left, Jordan Henderson in the middle and Raheem Sterling on the right, someone should create a chance or two for the England striker and he doesn’t usually need that many to find the back of the net.
Juan Mata vs Mamadou Sakho
Manchester United could be undone by the lack of work rate off the ball from Juan Mata but if they can see a similar amount of possession as they did at Old Trafford back in December they can make this a competitive game. Mamadou Sakho always looks like he has a mistake in him and Manchester United’s playmaker is both a goalscorer and capable of setting Wayne Rooney up fron all over the park. Mata should be United’s best attacking threat in this match, assuming he starts.
7 – Simon Mignolet has kept seven clean sheets in his last nine Premier League games.
7 – Steven Gerrard has scored seven goals in his last 11 Premier League matches versus Manchester United.
13 – Liverpool are unbeaten in all 13 of their Premier League matches since losing 3-0 at Old Trafford back in December.
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