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Manchester United were the closest competitors of their ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City for the Premier League title until now. Unfortunately for them though, they lost their way in the middle and are currently fighting to keep hold of the runners-up spot ahead of weekend’s mega-clash against bitter rivals Liverpool, who have been in a scintillating run of form. However, United showed resilience and grabbed two back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, staging comebacks from behind. Hence, they will be upbeat for Saturday’s encounter at Old Trafford.
Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, have sealed a berth in the quarter-finals of the prestigious Champions League competition and are keen on clinching a result on the road against one of Premier League’s toughest sides managed by veteran Jose Mourinho.
Liverpool are likely to have a fully fit squad. However, Nathaniel Clyne, though back from a long-term injury, is yet to make any senior appearance this season and is unlikely to be risked in such a high-voltage contest. Skipper Jordan Henderson suffered dead leg against F.C. Porto on Tuesday night but is expected to be fit and fine for the United clash. Georginio Wijnaldum, too, has returned to full training and is set to be available for selection on Saturday afternoon.
Although Klopp shifted to using a three-man defence towards the end of the Porto outing, the charismatic German gaffer has been pretty persistent with a 4-3-3 setup and the front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will have a tough test against league’s best custodian David De Gea, who will be protecting the Manchester United goal.
Loris Karius (GK)
The young German keeper has been declared as Liverpool’s No. 1 over Simon Mignolet and has earned loads of applauds for his recent resurgence and decent displays. He stopped Mohamed Diame sensationally against Newcastle United on Saturday and will be hoping to continue the same against the Red Devils.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB)
Although Klopp handed Joe Gomez a start against Porto in the midweek clash, local lad Alexander-Arnold is likely to be preferred over his fellow countryman following a series of promising performances.
Dejan Lovren (CB)
It’s a close call between the Croatian and Joel Matip. That said, the latest run of form might see Lovern getting the nod for this electrifying encounter and that will present him with a chance to prove his ability in the heart of Liverpool backline.
Virgil Van Dijk (CB)
The Dutchman has been a massive influence in Liverpool defence since joining them in the winter window and was rested against the Portuguese giants to keep him fit and fresh for the crucial weekend clash.
Andrew Robertson (LB)
Has been one of the best left-backs in the league and considering the form the Scotsman is in, he will be set to feature in his preferred role ahead of Alberto Moreno.
Jordan Henderson (CDM)
The skipper has come back stronger from his injury and despite suffering a dead leg against Porto on Tuesday night, Henderson is a favourite to start the game and orchestrate the flow from a central midfield slot.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (RCM)
The Englishman was exceptional against the Magpies last weekend and that earned him the Man of the Match award. That should have been enough for him to earn a place in Klopp’s starting XI for the epic Premier League clash.
Emre Can (LCM)
The German panzer might depart in the summer upon expiration of his contract but he has been a dominant force in the middle of the park. He will be fielded for his physicality, hard work, high pressing and ability to stride forward from the midfield to operate in advanced areas.
Mohamed Salah (RW)
The joint Premier League top scorer (alongside Harry Kane) will have a thrilling test against David De Gea and it remains to be seen if he can hunt down Manchester United like he has done with other Premier League sides.
Roberto Firmino (ST)
The main man in Klopp’s gegenpressing has not only scored 22 goals already but has also won applauds for his work rate and intelligence. He might turn out to be a massive threat to the Manchester United backline.
Sadio Mane (LW)
Mane netted a hat-trick against Porto in the first leg and also netted once against the Magpies. He came close to continue the streak against the Portuguese outfit at Anfield but only managed to hit the woodwork from a close angle. He, however, will be hoping to not replicate the same on Saturday night and resume his goal-scoring run against the mighty Manchester giants at the Theatre of Dreams.