Liverpool predicted line-up vs Manchester United

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Football News

The top-four rat race continues on Sunday as Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield in the Premier League.

The Reds sit in fifth heading into the game just two points and one place behind Louis van Gaal's men and it is a must win for both sides.

Champions League qualification has been the aim of both clubs from the start of the season however one must fall behind come the final whistle.

Liverpool have been unstoppable since they lost 3-0 to the Red Devils last December and have not tasted defeat in the top flight since. An unbelievable 32 points from a possible 36 has surged Brendan Rodgers' men into top-four contention with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson beginning to fulfil their true potential.

United haven't been the old side they once were under Sir Alex Ferguson however they look to have come into form at the right time. Last Sunday, they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford and they will be heading to Merseyside with plenty of confidence.

Sturridge To Cause Opposition Problems

Daniel Sturridge missed Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford earlier this season due to injury however will be hungry to help his side gain revenge.

The 25-year-old has netted just three times since his return to full-fitness and will be disappointed with his tally however has began to look like his former self.

In Liverpool's 1-0 win against Swansea City last Monday, Sturridge looked sharper than in the past and played a number of neat touches to create chances for his side. 

His fitness looks to be almost at the top level and his goal-scoring ability has never abandoned him.

United's back-four has been under scrutiny this campaign with many believing they are not good enough. The likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Daley Blind have all received criticism and been poor throughout the season. 

Sturridge will be desperate to take advantage of the shaky back-line and notch himself a goal or two.

Will Gerrard Return?

Steven Gerrard was announced fit for the Reds' game against Swansea however was left on the bench by Rodgers.

After coming on and changing the game, the Liverpool boss now has a dilemma whether to start the 35-year-old or not.

Jordan Henderson will once again keep his place in centre of the park but the question is who will join him.

Joe Allen has been Henderson's partner for the most part and done nothing wrong in recent weeks.

The Welshman was top-class during Liverpool's 2-1 win against Manchester City and was too impressive in South Wales. Allen stuck close to Gylifi Sigurdsson throughout and never left the Iceland international out of his tracks.

With Henderson and Allen likely to keep their places in the centre, it is whether Rodgers moves Gerrard up the field behind the striker.

Coutinho A Must

Coutinho has been thriving in recent weeks and it's difficult to see left out of the starting XI. 

The Brazilian has been cutting open defences open with ease, gliding past defenders and playing inch-perfect through balls. He too has found his shooting boots, scoring screamers against Manchester City and Southampton and has turned his right-foot into a wicked weapon.

Rodgers usually favours playing two central players behind the striker, so it is a matter of who joins Coutinho.

Gerrard has played this role earlier in the season, scoring twice against AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup.

However, one has to question his fitness and if he will be up to the high-speed game.

Adam Lallana seems much more suited to starting alongside Coutinho.

Lallana thrived in this fixture in December, menacing the United defence for the 90 minutes. He started out wide against Swansea however improved when he played in an advanced role.

Gerrard will still have a big role to play from now until the end of the season however Rodgers has admitted he will not pick the Liverpool skipper through sentiment.

It's likely he will come on as a substitute through the second-half.

Will Sterling Start?

The talk of this week has been Raheem Sterling stalling contract negotiations with Liverpool.

His future is uncertain on Merseyside and it is unclear whether Rodgers will start the 20-year-old.

Sterling's performance against Swansea wasn't his finest to date, however he did show glimpses of his talent. He linked up smartly with Coutinho in the second-half and adapted well playing a numerous positions.

He reportedly has stalled contract negotiations to concentrate on aiding Liverpool reach the top-four this term and if this is the case, he will start on the wing. His pace will look to expose the United defence, keeping the width as well as drifting inside when necessary.

Alberto Moreno has been consistent at left wing-back and will look to bomb forward given any opportunity.

Strong Back-Three

It was this fixture last December when Rodgers reverted to a 3-4-3 system.

Despite conceding three goals at Old Trafford, there was much more clarity at the back and conceded just three goals in their last eight games.

Emre Can has been rock solid on the right-hand side of the three centre-backs and will be the man to bring the ball out of the defence.  

He'll be partnered by Martin Skrtel, who was rock solid against Swansea, and Mamadou Sakho who was also good against the South Wales outfit.

Simon Mignolet was dropped at Old Trafford earlier in the season after a poor run of form but has been top class since regaining his place in Rodgers' side. The Belgian looks a completely different player, making quick decisions and bold saves.

Starting XI

Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Sakho; Sterling, Henderson, Allen, Moreno; Lallana, Coutinho; Sturridge

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