Graeme Le Saux on Liverpool v Manchester United: Visitors in good shape and ready to win

Klopp is struggling to cut out the mistakes
Klopp is struggling to cut out the mistakes
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Graeme Le Saux takes a close look at the weekend's big game and he doesn't have good news for Liverpool fans...

"Jurgen Klopp just has not found any consistency with his side and silly mistakes are a regular occurrence for Liverpool I’m afraid."

Saturday's early fixture serves up the two most successful teams in English football in what is probably our league's fiercest rivalry.

Emotions will be high and the atmosphere will be phenomenal at Anfield because it always is for games like this.

The betting is split down the middle with both teams [2.84] to win the match. For me that makes Manchester United great value.

United are a strong, physical side with quality throughout. And if you look at Liverpool's weaknesses they are United's strengths.

Defensive differences mark the two teams apart

Jose Mourinho has his team operating at a far higher level than last year. They've cut out the silly mistakes and now combine a watertight defence with a powerful midfield and pacy attack.

By contrast Jurgen Klopp just has not found any consistency with his side and silly mistakes are a regular occurrence for Liverpool I'm afraid.

We last saw Liverpool drawing 1-1 at Newcastle when some awful defending allowed Joselu in to score, though admittedly via a deflected tackle. But the Newcastle forward should never have been in that position. It was the sort of defending you would not accept at youth level. You have to fear for that unit against Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and the rest of the United attack.

Mane a major miss for Liverpool

In terms of personnel, both teams are without key men in Sadio Mane and Marouane Fellaini.

On the Liverpool side that might mean a start for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in what I feel would be his best position - as the wide man in a front three.

Alex has been deployed in a variety of positions throughout his club career, but rarely that far forward.

News of Mane's injury must have hurt Klopp, the Senegal striker is a phenomenal player - he is such a threat in attack that he puts the opponent on the back foot and allows the rest of his team to settle into their proper shape - but we won't see him now until possibly 2018. That absence is a massive blow to Liverpool.

Unless he's had an incredible few days in training I suspect Oxlade-Chamberlain won't be the Mane replacement on Saturday but if given the chance up there his speed makes him a danger and he might just surprise a few people.

For United, Fellaini probably doesn't get the respect he deserves but I think he is a major miss especially in a game like this. The Belgian has already scored three league goals this season and in Paul Pogba's absence he is a first-choice selection for Mourinho. He has a habit of scoring key goals and his physicality may have frightened Liverpool. Ander Herrera doesn't off the same muscularity but is a player I like and I think United will cope with the Spaniard in the middle.

Three points destined to go United's way

This game last year was a tight 0-0 draw but I don't see history repeating. The Liverpool backline worries me and I think they'll concede against a team that has scored 21 Premier League goals already this season. That puts pressure on the creative players who will think they need to score two or three to win a game, and it looks set up for United to secure three precious away points in their title bid.

Recommended Bet
Back United to win @ [2.84]

Graeme's Weekend Wagers

Treble: Back Man Utd, Spurs and Chelsea @ 7/2
Long Odds Bet: Back Brighton to beat Everton @ [3.4]

Batshuayi has not completely convinced Conte

Alvaro Morata has been stunning for Chelsea this season, but they will have to do without him this week and possibly a little further ahead. Can they cope without their six goal striker? Yes, of course, but I do wonder who will replace him up front.

Michi Batshuayi is the obvious choice and the young Belgian has had some encouraging moments in the Chelsea shirt this season, scoring that winner off the sub bench against Atletico Madrid, a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in the league cup and and the fifth goal of the Blues’ 6-0 Champions League stroll at home to Qarabag.

But he didn’t replace Morata when he was forced off against Manchester City with Willian joining Eden Hazard in attack. That makes me wonder about Batshuayi’s place in the pecking order.

Like other teams at the top of the table – Spurs and United being the obvious examples – Chelsea favour one main striker and that makes me wonder about Antonio Conte moving for a forward to support Morata.

When a club like Chelsea is in the market for a new player they are shopping for the best and it’s hard to see which player is going to settle for a spot on the bench behind Morata.

A place on the bench looks unlikely for Charly Musonda after his midweek comments on Instagram grumbling about lack of first-team chances. That looks a risky strategy for getting first-team opportunities if you ask me!

Unfortunately bringing youth through is not the Chelsea model at the moment, and a string of very good players have moved on from the club and now play at the very highest level in the Premier League. Look at Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku for two examples.

The one club that does youth a chance is Tottenham. Maybe Musonda needs to move across London for his chance to shine?!

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