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3 Talking points ahead of Liverpool vs Manchester United

Thursday 12th October 2017
Liverpool vs Manchester United is the weekend's big game: a titanic clash of much significance. Here are the three most pertinent talking points.

United's first real challenge



United have had it easy so far in the Premier League. West Ham, Swansea, Leicester, Stoke, Everton, Southampton, Crystal Palace. Five from the seven the club have played are in the table's bottom six. Southampton and Stoke are 12th and 13th respectively. In comparative terms, the fixture list has been very generous. Everton, for instance, have faced each of the top four clubs to date, all but Spurs away. Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils have taken advantage. Nineteen from a possible 21 points matches theirs and the Premier League's best ever start through seven games. The 2-2 draw at Stoke was the only blemish.

Liverpool has already played Arsenal, winning convincingly, and Manchester City, losing in the same manner. Despite such bipolar results, Jurgen Klopp's men have experienced big-game-clashes this season. Will they be better prepared as a result? One can only answer that upon the referee's full-time whistle but the fashion in which Mourinho sets his side up prior to the match presents more importance.

Last year's North-West Derby was billed as a thrilling encounter, only for it to be one of the year's most tedious matches. Mourinho set his team up to defend in two well-organised, disciplined banks of five. It was a travesty for the football purist but United escaped with a point.

One feels that with the momentum very clearly with United, they will head into the tie looking for a win.
Mourinho will not tinker too much. The emphasis should and is likely to be on winning. But, with the mercurial Portuguese, you just never know.

Reds rebound?



Liverpool has won just once since being thumped by Manchester City in August. It has been a torrid run of form, leading many to question whether Klopp is actually the man to take the Reds to the next level. Four draws, one loss and one win is hardly the stuff of champions. Klopp will know this.

The critics have come calling and it is time for Liverpool to answer. Welcoming United, a goal behind City atop the table, is a perfect opportunity for his squad to respond. A win would signal their quality, their fight, and potential to mount a title challenge this year.
After getting walloped by City, Klopp needs to play this game more wisely. By all means, Liverpool should take the game to United, but with controlled aggression. Swash-buckling play will be exposed by this ruthless United outfit.

United defence's moment?



It is not all just free-flowing football and the goals to match for United. Its defence has been solid and virtually impenetrable thus far. Conceding just two goals, they boast the League's best defence along with City.

Phil Jones is becoming the player he was predicted to be years ago. Eric Bailly looks even more assured than last season. Antonio Valencia is surely one of the Premier League's best full-backs. David De Gea isn't having to prove it so often but unquestionably remains the best keeper in the top flight. Nemanja Matic has provided an invaluable screen.

So how does Liverpool's attack, predicated on sharp movement and bursts of acceleration, find their way through one of the most disciplined back-lines in the league? This is perhaps the most pivotal battle in the game: Liverpool's attack vs United's defence.

If the Red Devils keep a clean sheet, they should take home all three points. Liverpool's woes in the back have been well documented. One has to say United will score at least one goal. Romelu Lukaku has ten in his first nine games, although he has taken a knock on international duty. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are all in form, as well, with the Frenchman well rested after being snubbed by Didier Deschamps.
Liverpool's forward will have to be at their enterprising best to find a way through the defence, then past De Gea. Marouane Fellaini's absence after suffering ligament damage while with Belgium gives the Reds hope. Yet, even with Pogba and Fellaini absent, Nemanja Matic will have last season's United player of the year, Ander Herrera, as his midfield partner.

 
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97


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