Liverpool travel to Old Trafford on Sunday seeking to continue their perfect start to the Premier League season. Victory against Manchester United will mean that their win streak extends to 18, matching Manchester City’s record. However, Jurgen Klopp is yet to win at Old Trafford. The last time the Reds won at this ground was under Brendan Rodgers; a 3-0 win during the 2013/14 season. Liverpool will be strengthened by the return of goalkeeper and triple Golden Glove winner Alisson Becker.
Alisson to Make His Return from Injury
Adrian out, Alisson in
Alisson will play for the first team again on Sunday for the first time since the Norwich City game on the opening day of the season. He went off injured during that game and summer signing Adrian has done an impressive job deputising for him. Liverpool have not lost a game with the Spaniard in the net, thus dropping him seems harsh. However, Alisson is one of the world’s best goalkeepers and not playing him when fit seems unfathomable. Adrian will have known when signing for Liverpool that his role would be back-up, rather than the first choice.
The defence in front of Alisson should be the one that has come to be first choice this season. Trent Alexander-Arnold should start at right-back having not featured for England over the international break, while Andrew Robertson should continue as his left-sided counterpart. Virgil van Dijk will start in the centre of defence, while the break should have provided Joel Matip with enough time to recover from his injury. Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren both deputised whilst Matip was out so both will be on standby if he remains unfit.
Klopp has several options in midfield, though it seems likely that he will go for those who he trusts. This should see Fabinho start as the defensive midfielder and his tactical nous will be key for Liverpool in the midfield battle. Ahead of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum should both return to their regular spots in Liverpool’s midfield.
However, Klopp could opt for the experience of James Milner as his level-headedness could be important in a rivalry of this magnitude. Klopp could also select a more creative option in the midfield to offer something different than those already mentioned. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri will all be waiting in the wings for their moment to shine.
Attack to Shine
There can be absolutely no question that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino start this game. The trio are one of the most potent attacking forces in world football and must start as often as possible if Liverpool are to end their 30-year wait for a league title.
Salah had to be substituted through injury against Leicester City due to Hamza Choudhury’s horror challenge, though enough time has passed that he should now be fully fit. This is especially the case as he wasn’t called up for Egypt’s friendly against Botswana. Divock Origi remains an option up front, though it is likely that he will have to settle for a place on the bench. Klopp has utilised the 4-2-3-1 formation to regain control of games at times this season. However, it seems unlikely that he will experiment by starting with it in a game of this importance.
Most likely XI: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum; Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah