With the International break upon us, there is little else to do but count down until the next big game. For Liverpool, Manchester United and the Premier League in general; they don’t come much bigger.
September 12 sees these two old rivals go head-to-head at this early stage in the new season.
From a Liverpool point of view, with Coutinho out suspended and Daniel Sturridge out, they are going to need someone to step up and have a strong influence in this match.
It will be a massive game for everyone, but especially players like Dejan Lovren, Lucas, Jordan Ibe, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Christian Benteke. The good news is that Jordan Henderson should be back to resume captain duties.
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Going into this game, United and Liverpool have had pretty identical seasons – two unconvincing 1-0 victories followed by a 0-0 draw which they feel they should have won. Then, defeats in games they simply did not perform in. Both will want to put it right and the break has come at the wrong time for both teams.
A win at Old Trafford could be exactly the kick-start certain players need to their Anfield career and could well lead to a run of wins. A defeat could see heads drop and make life more difficult for the new players trying to settle in.
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In an ideal world for a Liverpool fan Firmino and Benteke would get a goal or assist each and a confident performance from the back-line would result in a clean-sheet. Realistically, however, a hard fought draw with no mistakes from the players mentioned above would be a good result.
Avoiding defeat is order of the day as far as Reds’ fans are concerned. United will be confident of getting something out of the game on home soil, given their good start to the season (pre-Swansea). It’s a six-pointer and both teams are a work-in-progress. It is up for debate who needs the points more.
All of the uncertainty surrounding a certain goalkeeper earlier in the summer still remains as the transfer window banged shut. True, David de Gea is not moving clubs anytime soon - so that, at least, is cleared up.
However, the situation United are faced with now is having their player of last season on the outskirts of their squad. A distant figure – he will be separate from team-mates and fans alike and it is so easy to say, ‘Just get over it David, you’re paid enough and United are still a big club.’
But if his head wasn’t right before, it will not be for a while yet and Louis van Gaal is left to decide what to do with him now. Most people would agree that he is too good a player to be left out in the cold.
He will, like or not, have to accept that he is a Man United player until at least January and get back to doing his job. Competing to be Spain’s number one keeper may just convince him to do just that.
The signing Manchester United did make has divided opinion to say the least and it will be very interesting to see if he slots straight into the starting 11. Time will tell and United fans will have to trust the experience of their manager.
Liverpool on the other hand had a transfer window typical of Rodgers and the transfer committee – with all the business done early. Solid editions James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne have settled quickly while Joe Gomez has surprised everyone with the ease in which he has made himself first choice left back ahead of Alberto Moreno.
While Liverpool fans will hope that Firmino and Benteke will prove worth their hefty fees. Rodgers used the rest of the window to offload some deadwood and send a few youngsters out on loan.
Whatever happens we are always in for fireworks when these two giants come together.
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