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Manchester United vs Liverpool: 5 key battles

Manchester United and Liverpool are set to face off at 8 pm on Monday evening.

Both teams head into the game still searching for their first wins of the Premier League season.

Liverpool have looked far from their best early in the campaign, being held to draws by Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have looked dismal to say the least, losing to both Brighton and Brentford whilst conceding six goals in the process.

So, a win on Monday is vital for both sides. As a result, 101 have taken a look at the key battles that could decide this hugely important tie.

Luke Shaw vs Mohamed Salah

With Sadio Mane gone and Darwin Nunez injured, Liverpool will look to Mohamed Salah to provide the majority of their goal threat on Monday.

Salah has not been at his best in the early stages of 2022/23, but he remains one of the finest players in the Premier League and still scored one and assisted one vs Fulham.

Shaw, however, does not have the best track record when facing Salah. The Egyptian scored a hat-trick back in October of last season vs United when the Englishman started at left-back.

Luis Diaz vs Diogo Dalot

On the opposite flank, Jurgen Klopp is no doubt desperate for Diaz to exploit Diogo Dalot.

The Portuguese is currently United’s no.1 right-back and has started both their games this term.

Dalot, though, is somewhat lapse defensively and, seemingly due to instructions given to him by Erik ten Hag, is often pushed very high up the pitch.

Vs Brighton for example, Dalot was beaten easily by a Trossard pass and because of how high he was pushed, Danny Welbeck was able to run into the left channel and play a ball across goal for Pascal Gross to tap in.

Then, for the Seagulls’ second goal, Dalot lost the ball near Brighton’s corner flag, did not get back in time and after David de Gea parried a shot, Gross was largely unmarked at the back post to score his second.

So, vs Liverpool, there is a good chance Dalot will once again be out of position a lot, which Diaz can exploit.

Roberto Firmino vs Lisandro Martinez

The final major battle Manchester United must win to stand any chance of beating Liverpool is Roberto Firmino vs Lisandro Martinez.

Martinez has had a mixed start to life in England, with his height being exploited by opposition forwards a great deal already.

As a result, it is probably good for the Argentine that Darwin Nunez is suspended for Monday’s game. However, he will still have to contend with Firmino.

The Brazilian operates a lot deeper than a traditional striker and Martinez must be wary of being drawn out of his defensive line by Firmino, who is more than capable of slipping in Salah or Diaz to exploit the open space.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Joe Gomez

At the other end of the pitch, any joy United are likely to have in front of goal will come from Cristiano Ronaldo.

As Anthony Martial is still on his way back from an injury, Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to start vs Liverpool.

This is not great news for Liverpool, who are expected to partner Joe Gomez alongside Virgil van Dijk due to issues facing Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Nat Phillips.

Gomez has not been a regular starter for a while now and made just eight league appearances in 2021/22, none of which saw him start as a centre-back.

As a result, there is a good chance he will be somewhat rusty when facing CR7 or Anthony Martial in gameweek three.

Marcus Rashford vs Trent Alexander-Arnold

The final area Manchester United may have some joy in is down their left-flank.

Aside from Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s weakest defensive option.

The right-back has struggled against some top wingers in the past, including Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid.

And though Rashford has not been at the top of his game for a while, the Reds are likely to be fairly exposed down their right-hand side this week due to their injury issues.

Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones have all had problems of late, meaning Harvey Elliott will likely start at the RCM vs United. Elliott has begun to form a good partnership with Salah and TAA, but he is not as defensively sound as someone like Jordan Henderson.

We saw this in practice during Liverpool’s draw with Palace recently. Eberechi Eze beat Fabinho and played in a free Wilfried Zaha who eventually scored. Trent and Elliott, meanwhile, were jogging back at the other end of the pitch:


Picture of Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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