Will Salah play centrally?
Jurgen Klopp has elected to use Mo Salah through the middle on numerous occasions this season, most notably last week against Bournemouth as the Egyptian bagged a hat-trick. However, it was back to familiar line-up hosting Napoli as Sadio Mane returned to the starting XI – albeit fluffing his lines as the chances went begging time and time again. It will be interesting to see whether Klopp decides to stick or twist, with Xherdan Shaqiri waiting in the wings, though we suspect the front three will remain unchanged from the midweek encounter while the shape in the middle of the park will stay the same.
Indeed, Klopp has yet to play Salah centrally against a top team, though if there was a time to do it, this would probably be that moment. Salah’s been hitting form in recent weeks and United’s rearguard appears less than secure, while Mourinho has been effective at combating his threat before. Given Luke Shaw is likely to miss out, Ashley Young will play in the left-back zone. However, a right-footed player in that position has a tendency to tuck in and diminish the space between centre-back and full-back that Salah loves to exploit on the diagonal run.
Most expensive parked bus in the world
Jose Mourinho may have coined the phrase ‘park the bus’, but the term has become so closely synonymous with his own tactics, especially in the big away games as he’s sought to nullify opposition attacks. Although he may look with envy at the money spent over this way recently, he’s hardly been thrifty with his own spending – including a pair of centre-backs than cost £30m each, not to mention the wasted £89m spent further forwards on Paul Pogba.
That defensive mentality has been demonstrated in his clashes with us ever since he arrived in Manchester, with three of four encounters seeing both fewer than three goals and ending in stalemates – including goalless meetings on both occasions at Anfield. Given we’ve conceded just the once at Anfield this term, it would be no surprise to see United draw another blank. Yes, Jose Gomez and now Joel Matip are both absent, but Dejan Lovren isn’t quite the disaster waiting to happen that he’s often portrayed to be (at least not with the calming and authoritative presence of Virgil van Dijk next to him).Even if there are problems down the road, Fabinho could drop into that zone alongside the Dutchman, while there’s always one outfield position that James Milner is yet to play!
This time is different
We’ve not held the best of records against United since Fergie retired, with just three victories from 13 matches across all competitions, though we did keep a clean sheet in each of those wins as well as three of the last six encounters overall. There’s definitely been a switch in momentum in different directions, with United regressing, and it should only take the solitary strike to win this game. Given our imperious form at Anfield, with 11 shut outs in the past 12 league fixtures, we’d back the win to nil.
*Odds are subject to change
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