Man Utd v Liverpool
Saturday 12:45, Sky Sports Main Event.
Match Odds: Man Utd 2.89/5, Liverpool 2.89/5, The Draw 3.412/5.
Second versus third
This is arguably the biggest fixture in English football, but in recent years Manchester United and Liverpool have rarely been battling it out directly in the league table - often one side has had title aspirations while the other is simply searching to reach the Champions League places.
But things are different this time around. Manchester United are one place, and just two points, above Liverpool, the sides in second and third respectively. Neither has any chance of the title, and it would be surprising if they fell out of the top four entirely, but this is a battle to determine who has an upper hand in the table, not just in the 90 minutes.
Jose Mourinho's team selection in recent weeks has been somewhat unpredictable, but he now appears to have settled on a 4-3-3 formation which suits Paul Pogba - now, the Frenchman needs to turn in performances that prove he's worth basing the side around. Nemanja Matic is likely to sit deep in midfield, with Scott McTominay in line for another start to the right of midfield, in the continued absence of Ander Herrera.
Lingard to get the nod
Going forward there's more of a question mark. Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a decent run of form recently and will start upfront, while Alexis Sanchez is presumably undroppable despite some flat performances recently.
The identity of the third attacker, though, remains to be seen. Anthony Martial is doubtful and Marcus Rashford isn't getting a look-in recently, so it's probably a toss-up between Jesse Lingard, who is often so effective in big games, and Juan Mata, who played well to turn the game at Selhurst Park on Monday night. Lingard seems the better bet here for his speed and energy, against Jurgen Klopp's high-energy Liverpool.
Defensively, Mourinho was furious after the sloppy performance against Crystal Palace and Victor Lindelof, still largely unconvincing, could be the victim here. Eric Bailly is probably United's best centre-back and seems likely to start for the first time in over three months alongside Chris Smalling. The converted wing pair of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are now seemingly United's first-choice full-back pairing.
Midfield decisions for Klopp
Jurgen Klopp's defence and attack seems fairly set in stone, but there are problems in midfield. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum would probably both start but are rated as doubtful, and it seems unlikely Klopp will risk them both. That surely means a start for jack-of-all-trades Emre Can, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to start in the right-of-centre midfield role, where he'll be Liverpool's closest player to Pogba.
At the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold will go up against Sanchez, while Andrew Robertson missed the midweek draw with Porto, but this was seemingly just a precaution and should be fit to start. Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip will be charged with stopping Lukaku, and Liverpool's defence are likely to play high up the pitch, as they did in the reverse fixture. United need to find ways to put Lukaku in with clever through-balls.
Going forward it's the all-star trio. Sadio Mane will engage in a speedy battle with Valencia, Firmino will drift away from the United centre-backs, but it's clearly Mohamed Salah who carries the main threat here, against Young. The Egyptian has enjoyed an incredible debut Premier League campaign in terms of goalscoring, United's lack of a solid, dependable left-back could be exposed here.
This should be more entertaining than the reverse fixture, which was a dour 0-0. I think Liverpool might create more goalscoring opportunities, despite being away from home, but over recent years United have often nicked more points than they deserve thanks to the performances of David De Gea. The contrast between him and Loris Karius is huge and might be decisive here, so I'm going to back Man Utd in the Draw No Bet market at around 2.01/1.