Liverpool’s attacking success will depend largely on Mo Salah when they face Manchester United on Saturday, with Sadio Mané facing up to six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury sustained on international duty.
The Egypt winger, who scored a vital last-minute penalty to send his country to next summer’s World Cup during the international break, will face his former manager from his time at Chelsea, with a significant point to prove.
Salah spent most of the time on the bench during his time at Stamford Bridge, but has begun his period with Liverpool in good form, and is his team’s top scorer so far this season.
His pace will be vital as Liverpool look to cope without their star man, who was such a big loss when he went to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Both sides are missing key men. As well as the aforementioned Mané, Adam Lallana is still not fit to return but is edging closer by spending time in Qatar on his road to recovery, whilst for United, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick are all missing.
Ander Herrera is likely to start in their absence.
Former Everton man Romelu Lukaku, who never scored at Anfield for the Blues, will lead the line for the visitors, with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip tasked with keeping him under wraps, along with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could come into the Liverpool line-up, but Emre Can is a more likely replacement for Mané, with Philippe Coutinho moving further forward.
The England international has had a tough start to life on Merseyside and will probably have to settle for a place on the bench.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference Friday lunchtime, Jurgen Klopp was in a more positive mood than in recent interviews, when he has looked a little strained.
One thing he was unhappy about, however, was the decision to play this game so soon after both sets of players returned from playing for their countries.
“I’d love to ask the Premier League to give us both more time to prepare for a game like this. Both have two days to prepare,” he said.
“Our fans have been waiting for this game for two weeks at least. We have two days to prepare. It’s a pretty big game so maybe next time bring these two teams together when we can work in the direction of the game”.
On Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, players instrumental to Liverpool’s play, but who flew back from Brazilian international duty just a couple of days ago, Klopp said, “The club did everything to bring the boys back.
“We worked with the other clubs (like Manchester City, for example, who brought back Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho). They should be OK [to start the game]”.
On the two year anniversary of his arrival, Klopp was also asked about how he felt his tenure has been so far.
“I don’t think I’m perfect, but it’s difficult to find better options. If 99% of Liverpudlians think we’re going the right way, then it’s OK,” he said.
“We had to improve to get into the situation we’re in. If they sacked me now, I don’t think a lot of managers would do the job better”.
The stand opposite the Main Stand, formerly called the Centenary Stand, was renamed after Reds legend Kenny Dalglish in a ceremony on Friday morning, and Klopp used the opportunity to encourage the Anfield crowd.
“It’s our stadium, it’s Anfield; the first game with the Kenny Dalglish Stand, and we want to use this power.
“We will try all we have to win. It’s a big, big, big opportunity. We are in a really good moment, not results-wise, but performances”.
Manchester United are yet to face a test as big as this one, but Liverpool, despite being in the middle of the poor run of form, know they can go to just four points behind their opponents with a victory.
It could well prove to be a massive game in the context of their season.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 12:30 GMT and is live on Sky Sports in the UK.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Martin Atkinson – the Premier League’s top official, Atkinson was always going to get this appointment.
He saw Manchester United beat West Ham 4-0 on the opening day, and is yet to oversee a Liverpool game this season.
He has refereed this fixture three times before, with Manchester United winning all three, including sending off Steven Gerrard seconds after he came on as a half-time substitute in his final appearance in the prestige game.
Jurgen Klopp has lost just one of his seven games against Jose Mourinho as a manager across all competitions, winning three and drawing three.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Matip, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Coutinho
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Lukaku
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