By Alex Stevens
Football Insider looks ahead to the Premier League mega-clash of the weekend as we profile the key players and give you the facts, stats, line-ups and all-round lowdown in our Manchester United v Liverpool preview.
KICK-OFF TIME: Saturday, 5.30pm
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1
IT’S A BIG GAME FOR…
David de Gea. The Spaniard has put the transfer-that-never-quite-was behind him to sign a new United contract and, in theory at least, commit his best years to the club. The goalkeeper watched from the stands during United’s opening six matches of the season after Louis van Gaal made the big call that his head was not quite right. But United’s Player of the Year for the last two seasons will be restored to the starting line-up in place of Sergio Romero, who made a decent fist of deputising for De Gea without ever suggesting he was ready to take on the role permanently.
PLAYER TO WATCH…
Roberto Firmino. Has showed only glimpses of the creative skills that persuaded Liverpool to spend £29million on him during what has been a quiet start to his Anfield career. The onus will be on the Brazilian to deliver in the absence of countryman and new darling of the Kop Philippe Coutinho, who is serving a one-match suspension after unjustly receiving a red card against West Ham.
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Premier League: Liverpool 1 (Sturridge) Manchester United 2 (Mata 2), March 2015
Premier League: Manchester United 3 (Rooney, Mata, Van Persie) Liverpool 0, December 2014
Premier League: Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3 (Gerrard 2, Suarez), February 2014
A blonde-haired Robbie Fowler scored two magnificently audacious goals as Liverpool so nearly ruined Eric Cantona’s comeback match. The Frenchman took the headlines for his equalising penalty but the greatest performance that day was delivered by a Liverpool player. Watch how Fowler brushed aside Gary Neville for his second goal.
Manchester United in 2015/16: W, W, W, D, W, L
Liverpool in 2015/16: W, W, D, L
United to win 6/1 (Betfair – new customers only)
HOW WILL THEY LINE UP…
Liverpool (possible): Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Gomez; Milner, Lucas, Can; Ings, Benteke, Firmino.
Manchester United (possible): De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Herrera, Depay; Fellaini.
EXPERT VERDICT… United to eke out a win against a weakened Liverpool