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Liverpool v Manchester United : Jurgen Klopp and Louis van Gaal first Premier League meeting

This is often considered the major rivalry in English football - but this time it's sixth versus ninth going into the weekend's Premier League action. Both sides have recovered so far in 2016 after a difficult December, but neither are playing with great confidence.
Both sides, peculiarly, were involved in thrilling 3-3 draws in midweek, which isn't necessarily reflective of their overall styles, and this game is likely to be much tighter.
Jurgen Klopp still has various injury problems to contend with, and the latest reports suggest that Kolo Toure and Jordan Ibe are both doubtful here. Toure would probably be replaced by surprise loan signing Steven Caulker, who bizarrely made a cameo appearance upfront against Arsenal.

Change of system for Klopp?


Ibe's absence might be more problematic, though - Klopp might be forced to change his system dramatically. Having played a 4-2-3-1 with Ibe on the right against Arsenal, the most obvious replacements would be Christian Benteke or Joe Allen.
Neither are natural wingers, clearly, so Klopp would presumably have to change his approach to play with a conventional number nine, or shift to something more like a 4-3-3 shape.
Roberto Firmino hit two goals against Arsenal, and Klopp will hope to continue with the Brazilian upfront as his main striker. Firmino has performed well without too much reward in front of goal, but that double might turn out to be a catalyst for him to become Liverpool's main man.
Adam Lallana played well in the number ten role against Arsenal, though left-sided James Milner continues to look slightly out-of-sorts. Jordan Henderson and Emre Can seems a good midfield combination.

Martial the key man


Louis van Gaal is also likely to make a couple of changes from the side which drew at Newcastle. Michael Carrick will hope to return to the centre of midfield, presumably at the expense of Marouane Fellaini, while Juan Mata should also return.

Ander Herrera performed well in the number ten role, so Mata might be used from the right with Anthony Martial switching flanks. Jesse Lingard could drop out despite a goal, while Wayne Rooney will continue to lead the line having hit three goals in his last two games - albeit two from the spot.
The key player here could be Martial. He's potentially the only player on the pitch truly capable of going in behind defences, with Firmino and Rooney both likely to drop deep from their central striking positions, the likes of Lallana and Mata likely to drift around in central zones, with Milner and Herrera more about up-and-down energy.

Congested midfield battle


Both teams keep reasonably high line and therefore this should be a congested midfield battle - Martial will offer another dimension, and if supplied with good though-balls, his pace can cause Liverpool's makeshift backline problems. It remains to be seen which flank he starts on, however.

There have been plenty of goals during recent meetings between these sides - nine of the last 11 have seen over 2.5, but it's doubtful whether that pattern will continue. The previous meeting between the two, at Old Trafford earlier this season, was dreadfully dull in the first half - and United have a habit of starting games extremely slowly, despite the eventful opening at St James' Park in midweek.
United have conceded lots of goals in recent weeks, but overall their defensive shape is good, and they might be able to frustrate a Liverpool side lacking many serious goal threats. Whether United can offer a significant threat at the other end, though, remains to be seen.

Trader's View: Alan Thompson


Both these sides played their parts in highly entertaining games midweek, full of goals and controversy. Can we look forward to another blockbuster at Anfield?
If head to heads are anything to go by then I think we can, as goals are often plentiful when these two meet. Seven of the last eight have produced a result of Over 2.5 Goals and both teams have scored in five of those. At Anfield, United have failed to score in just three of their last 10 visits and have won two of the last four, Liverpool winning one and one draw.
The Red Devils were twice ahead at St James’ Park midweek and will be disappointed at not taking maximum points, especially after leading by two goals at half time. Liverpool had their own memorable game against table topping Arsenal on Wednesday, where they were twice ahead within the opening 20 minutes thanks to a brace from Roberto Firmino but it was Joe Allen’s 90th minute equaliser that was required to secure a point for the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are short enough for me in this @ 2.38 - I had them closer to 2.50 - while Manchester United are available @ 3.60, much bigger than I would have them. If I was playing in this market United would have to be the bet, but on the road, they are now without a win in four and I just can’t pull the trigger and back them.
The last six Premier League games at Anfield have ALL been level at half time and 50% of United's away games have also been level at the break. So, I will be splitting my stake, backing the draw in the Half Time market at anything better than 2.10.
Also, because there has only been one full-time draw in this fixture out of the last 20 and the fact there has been at least one second half goal in the last nine games at Anfield (only the Bournemouth game on the opening day of the season failed to see a goal in the second half), I am going to use the other half of my stake to dutch back Draw/Liverpool @ 6.80 and Draw/Manchester United @ 10.00 in the Half Time/Full Time market, giving approx odds of 4.00.


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