Arguably the most ferocious rivalry in English football resumes on Monday night as Liverpool host Manchester United in a crucial game in the Premier League.
Liverpool come into the game in fantastic form winning five games on the spin in all competitions with many suggesting that the Anfield club are serious title contenders this season.
As for Man Utd, despite starting the season winning four out of four, the Manchester derby seemed to bring Jose Mourinho back down to earth, with the 2-1 defeat the start of three defeats on the spin for the former Chelsea manager for the first time in 14 years.
For Mourinho, it’s a huge game after losing the Manchester derby already this season, he doesn’t want to lose against their old rivals in Liverpool, who with a win could go joint top and six points clear of United.
What do we need to look out for on Monday night?
Does Rooney start?
He’s been on the bench for the past few Man United games as well as the last England game in Slovenia so does the club captain start? My answer would be yes.
This game with all the history, rivalry and importance they will need someone on the field who has the knowhow of what this game can bring. No doubt the United man has been far from his best this season but experience will be key and they’ll be needing all they can get as they evolve under Jose Mourinho.
Will the false nine be employed against United?
One of the most unique parts of the Klopp side is the fact he employs the false nine role and the problems it has caused so far this season.
If the Liverpool boss wants to look at how Manchester City dominated United in the first 45 minutes in the derby last month, the false nine role worked treat. Despite playing Kelechi Iheanacho in the absence of Sergio Aguero, the young Nigerian wasn’t always at the tip of their attacks, the rotation between Nolito, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling also bamboozled United at times.
Jurgen Klopp recently went on Sky’s Monday Night Football and suggested that as long as the forward players are rotating and taking up each other’s positions, he doesn’t mind. It will be interesting to see how they set up on Monday night.
Will Mourinho employ his old tactics at Anfield?
We’ve seen Mourinho’s Chelsea come to Anfield in the past and frustrate Liverpool, famously in 2014 when he set up his team to defend and trigger Liverpool into mistakes which saw Brendan Rodgers side throw away their title chances.
Given how Klopp likes to play, should Mourinho do that once again? It could be what it takes to stop this free flowing Liverpool side from running riot once more.
Burnley found success with this early in the season, with Liverpool having over 75% possession on the day and a hatful of chances it was the Clarets who won 2-0. The tactic worked fantastically well which ultimately saw Klopp’s men forcing passes and shots to try and open up the defence.
Midfield battle? Do Liverpool win it?
A key part of this game will be the midfield, but who will win the battle. A month ago Liverpool rocked up to Stamford Bridge and totally over ran and outworked Antonio Conte’s midfield. They ran harder and faster, pressed intensely and regained possession quickly meaning Chelsea were without the ball for large periods.
The likes of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum were superb in that game, they’ll be looking to do the same (assuming Wijnaldum is fit) but do United have the legs in midfield to compete?
Paul Pogba has shown since his summer move from Juventus that he is vulnerable in defensive situations whilst Juan Mata, despite being a fantastic number ten, could struggle with the intensity that Liverpool bring to the table. Of course Ander Herrera adds some much needed energy but will it be enough?
Is this the most anticipated Liverpool v Man Utd game in years?
Liverpool have been out of sorts for some years with them fighting for Europa League places rather than Premier League titles and with Man Utd looking to forge a title charge this season, it’s certainly shaping up to be a fantastic game.
Mourinho needs a big win especially with the week he has coming up, with Liverpool on Monday, Europa League duties on Thursday and then a trip to former club Chelsea on Sunday.
For Klopp it will be another statement of intent after victories against Arsenal and Chelsea, many have suggested that top four should be the primary target but the way the German has got the Reds playing, the title is a serious possibility.
As for the two sides Liverpool haven’t beaten their rivals in their past four league outings so a win is certainly what the supporters will be looking for.