Jürgen Klopp is certain Liverpool will be suitably prepared for the challenge of facing an in-form Manchester United side under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Reds can reclaim top spot in the Premier League this weekend by securing a positive result at the home of their arch-rivals on Sunday.
United have won eight and drawn one of their nine league matches since Solskjaer was installed as caretaker manager, shortly after Liverpool had won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Anfield.
At his pre-match press conference, Klopp assessed how the opposition have changed in the past two months, how his team can win at Old Trafford, and more…
On what this weekend’s game means to him…
A lot: it’s the only game we have at the weekend and it’s against Manchester United. It’s a big one, absolutely a big one, and we know it is a difficult one as well. They are in a good moment – a really good moment – they are physically strong, they defend well, they attack well. Against Chelsea [in the FA Cup on Monday night], I saw the game and Chelsea were not as bad as everyone made them out to be after the game, but United scored in perfect moments and scored two brilliant goals. They are full of confidence, all that stuff, that’s how they’re going at the moment, that’s clear. We will go there and be as good as possibly prepared and try everything to get a result there, that’s the plan. You never know. Two strong teams will face each other and so it’s open until the final whistle. We try to use that time.
On the difference between this United team and the one Liverpool played in December…
The way they play is obviously different, but everything I will say or could say now, people would make a story of it that it sounds disrespectful to Jose Mourinho – and there is no reason for that because he is an outstanding manager. It looked like in the end, they had a difficult time together. They found a solution for them how they want to improve that situation and that obviously worked out. Since Ole is there, pretty much everything changed. We see the Pogba Man United signed a couple of years ago, Herrera is in outstanding shape, all the offensive players were all there and were all good before but now they are full of confidence and use all their potential, so that makes a big difference. Sometimes it is how it is, you need some changes and in football it is very often the manager and it helps. It doesn’t always help, but sometimes it helps, in this case obviously it has helped. It is a different side, a different style, but still United and so they have all different ways in their toolbox to get results. They can still defend deep and all that stuff, they have to sometimes, and they play high pressure in different moments, so it’s all there, that’s good.
On Liverpool’s current run of fixtures and teams trying to ‘stop them’…
There is Watford in the middle of the week as well, so we should not forget them. It’s how it is. With Bayern for sure, it’s nothing personal – it is that they want to be as successful as possible. I think for Man United it is the same. If they have as a little plus that with three points against us we cannot be champions or whatever, I don’t know if it is like that, if it is the case. It’s a big game anyway, it was always a big game and will always be a big game. We are always looking forward to playing there; it is a good atmosphere, it’s very exciting, all the stuff around, a lot of talk before – I don’t like it too much, but it’s normal. Then at the weekend [it is] Everton after Watford, which is difficult enough. Everton have their own situation and I don’t think they think too much about our title chances, they have to sort their own situation just as all of us have to do. To be honest, I didn’t think a second about Watford so far, not a second about Everton and didn’t think anymore about Bayern since yesterday. We play United and that’s tough enough.
On whether Paris Saint-Germain provided the blueprint for beating United…
Result-wise, it was the only team, but Tottenham played a pretty good game against United, to be honest. What is a blueprint? They were pretty cool with the ball, they passed a lot, they were really confident, good positioning, passing between the lines, and scoring in the right moment. You saw against Chelsea that United can play very, very well without Lingard and Martial because that was a proper line-up with Mata and Lukaku. But in the game when you have to change it, that changes much more, you cannot really adapt. They played the last five or six games before that with the same line-up and then you have to change like this in 15 minutes. That obviously didn’t work out and PSG used that. It was a bit of luck for PSG but they played a really good game, very demanding and looked in charge in most of the situations, they didn’t give a lot of counter-attacks away, which is a massive thing to do against United because whichever line-up they have, how they attack with whoever it is, will be quick on the offensive wings. From time to time they leave a player up, or two. You need to be 100 per cent concentrated. PSG did well, scored good goals in the right moment, and that always helps in football.
On the job done by Solskjaer since taking caretaker charge of United…
That’s probably the best record a manager ever had when he came in [during] a season. When we start the analysis, you get the last 10 games and winning is green – it was pretty green, to be honest. They had a few good results since he was in. I said it already, we are not magicians but the potential of this Man United team is good, that was always clear. It didn’t work out for different reasons and all that stuff, and he came in and obviously found exactly the right words and did exactly the right thing in training. I’m really happy for him that he got the opportunity to show his quality. He is doing it obviously. It’s not the best news for us but for Man United fans it’s obviously brilliant. He has all the things Sir Alex Ferguson stood for, because he was experienced in that time, with all the new things in football. That’s really good and makes them a threat again. They were always a threat in specific games but now, of course, they are really back on track. Everybody sees that – good for them.
The Brazilian was needed to slot in at centre-back for the midweek draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League, shining even in arguably his ‘weak’ side on the left of the pairing.
It is highly likely the No. 3 starts, given his overriding influence on Liverpool after a slow start, and speaking on Friday, Klopp batted away a strange suggestion that Fabinho could stay as a centre-back for the long term.
Interestingly, the manager compared him to Emre Can, explaining how the club’s recruitment staff identified him due to his ability to play in midfield and defence, like the departed German.
“It’s brilliant to have him as an option for both positions, obviously,” Klopp said.
“I think his natural position is in midfield, but that he can play at centre-half makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us.
“We knew last year that we would lose Emre Can, who is of a similar profile, so it was so important [to replace him].
“That’s was always the plan, that we have him for that as well, but with the four centre-halves we have we didn’t think we would have to use him there, actually!
“But he can play the position, obviously, that’s really good. That helps us a lot.
“We will see what happens in the future, but I think he is a midfielder and we will use him most of the time in that position.”
Can’s importance for Liverpool has been somewhat forgotten due to the nature of his free transfer to Juventus, but as Klopp says, it was paramount he was replaced.
Fabinho appears to be a significant upgrade on the 25-year-old, too: a player who is more suited to the demands of Liverpool’s No. 6 role, as well as having the added height to comfortable deputise at centre-back.
Both have spent most of their international careers at right-back, too, and while this is clearly a last-resort option for the Reds, there will have been few players on the market that could have fit the mould.
And few that would have done so better than Fabinho who is, as Klopp attests, unbelievably valuable.
Van Dijk missed Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich due to suspension, but will be raring to go for a must-win Premier League clash at Old Trafford.
Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson can all lay claim to a starting spot in the middle of the park, while Shaqiri is also back from an abdominal injury, giving the manager another option to consider.
Speaking at Melwood on Friday, Klopp expressed his delight at the improving fitness of his squad, though Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez are still out and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster won’t be involved either.
“It’s really good to have him back,” he said, deflecting the narrative of Van Dijk being his new ‘colossus’, with one reporter pushing for a comparison with Ron Yeats.
“By the way, it’s the first time since I don’t know how many weeks that we have to make a choice.
“Between midfielders, full-backs, even centre-halves if I think about Fabinho again in that position, I could make a decision about it.
“So that’s good. That’s for us a good moment, so far this week obviously because of the Bayern it was more or less a recovery.
“But now we have two sessions to prepare for the game and that’s good.”
Klopp’s injury update provided little in terms of new information, having already ruled out Lovren before the Bayern game and with Gomez still recovering after surgery.
The most positive factor in his assessment on Friday was that Oxlade-Chamberlain is now working in “bigger parts” of training, though he added that the No. 21 is “not ready to play,” as expected.
“Dejan not in, Joe not in, I think pretty much all the rest are in training at least,” he continued.
“Rhian Brewster is still only [doing] little parts, Ox in bigger parts, but not ready to play.
“The rest trained and will train with us.
“Usually now I get a message that somebody’s ill, so I’m still a bit nervous about that! But until now I didn’t hear anything.”
In fact, Klopp is now relishing the increased strength of his squad and the ‘good problem’ of leaving senior players out of the matchday squad.
Of late, the likes of Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho have been required to fill in on the substitutes’ bench due to injuries, but now it could be Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi who miss out instead.
Perhaps the most useful candidate to bring on late on in games is Shaqiri, who scored twice to seal a 3-1 win over United at Anfield back in December.
“It’s not difficult, now I have to make a decision about who starts for the first time,” Klopp explained.
“We always had a good lineup to start. Our problem was how can we change [from the bench]? That’s a problem.
“Maybe one or two players who are not 18 years old will not be in the squad. I don’t know in the moment, but that could happen.
“That’s all good, we need that. We need to have influence from the bench, that we can change, bring on players who are fit and not like Shaq against Bayern, having one session.
“Because of other things we thought if we need him for 10, 15 minutes we can bring him in at least.
“Now he had another five or six days in training, that always helps.
“That’s what you need in a very decisive period of the season. We created a basis, I said it a lot, we have to use it now.
“To use the situation you need the right number of players, because we have three games in the week—I don’t think about the other games but I know they will come.
“So it’s good. First time, and hopefully it stays like this, that we can make changes in the game, in the lineup, that’s what you need.
“Today is the best moment for a couple of weeks.”
Jürgen Klopp discussed the importance of Fabinho's versatility, the return of Virgil van Dijk to face Manchester United, and the increased options he has to choose from during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Read the manager’s thoughts on those three topics below…
On whether Fabinho has a long-term future at centre-back…
It’s brilliant to have him as an option for both positions, but his natural position is in midfield. That he can play centre-half makes him an unbelievably valuable player for us. We knew last year we’d lose Emre Can, who is a similar profile. It was so important, it was always the plan that we’d have [Fabinho] for that as well. With four centre-halves, we didn’t think we’d have to use him there actually. But he can play the position obviously, that’s really good and helps us a lot. We will see what happens in the future but he is a midfielder and we will use him most of the time in that position.
On the importance of having Van Dijk available after suspension against Bayern Munich…
[It’s] very [important], like he always is. But the most important thing is that we didn’t miss him as much as, again, a lot of people expected us to miss him – because we defend as a unit. It makes life a bit easier for Virg and for Fabinho as well. In front of him Hendo played an outstanding game; if he would not have been as spot-on as he was then Fabinho would have struggled, and Virg would have struggled in the last couple of games. It’s really good to have him back, of course. It’s the first time for I don’t know how many weeks that we have to make a choice between midfielders, full-backs, even centre-half if I think about Fabinho again in that position. I could make a decision about it. That’s good. For us, it’s a good moment. So far this week because of the Bayern game, it was only more or less recovery but now we have two sessions to prepare the game. That’s good and it’s different for us. I’m really looking forward to it.
On his selection options in midfield…
It’s not difficult. The thing is, we always had a good line-up to start, our problem was how could we change? That’s the problem. Maybe one or two players who are not 18 years old will not be in the squad, I don’t know in the moment but that could happen. That’s all good, we need to have influence from the bench, that we can change and bring on players who are fit. Not like Shaq against Bayern, having one session before that but because of other things, we thought if we needed him for 10 or 15 minutes we could bring him at least. Now he is another five or six days in training, which always helps. That’s what you need in a very decisive period of the season. We created a basis we have to use now, and for using the situation you need the right number of players because we have three games in a week. I don’t think about the other two games but I know they will come. Hopefully it stays like this, that we can make changes in the game, in the line-ups and all that stuff. That’s what you need. Hopefully it stays like this, it’s the best moment for a couple of weeks.
Dejan Lovren will miss Liverpool's clash with Manchester United on Sunday, Jürgen Klopp has confirmed.
The defender is continuing his recovery from a hamstring issue sustained against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup on January 7 and won't be available for the trip to Old Trafford this weekend.
Elsewhere, long-term absentees Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster are the Reds' only other players ruled out of the contest with United.
Klopp told his pre-match press conference on Friday morning: “Dejan is not in, Joe is not in, but I think pretty much all the rest are in training at least.
“Rhian Brewster is still only in little parts [of training], Ox in bigger parts but not ready to play. The rest have trained and will train with us, but there is still a little bit of time.
“Usually now I get the message that somebody is ill in the last three weeks, so I am still a bit nervous about that!
“But until now I didn’t hear anything.”
Games against those from down the East Lancs Road are never ones to look forward to, especially in the Premier League era.
Liverpool have recorded just three wins at Old Trafford in the last 15 years, so you might be forgiven for forgetting some of what’s happened in these games in recent years.
Find out how well you remember the Reds vs. Man United in our quiz below – there’s 12 questions for you here:
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Last Updated: 22/02/19 12:03pm1:25 Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool will play a hugely improved Manchester United Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool will play a hugely improved Manchester United
Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool will play a different Manchester United team to the one they beat earlier this season - including a transformed Paul Pogba.
Jose Mourinho's United side were beaten 3-1 at Anfield in December last year, days before the Portuguese's sacking.
Klopp said it would be "disrespectful" to disregard Mourinho's style, but the Liverpool boss admitted caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rejuvenated United's best talents.
"They have found a solution and it has worked out," Klopp said. "Since Ole was there pretty much everything changed.
"We see the Pogba that Man Utd signed a couple of years ago, and [Ander] Herrera in outstanding shape.
"They were all good before but now they are full of confidence and use their potential. That makes a big difference. Sometimes you need changes, and in football it's very often the manager, that helps. In this case obviously it helped.Paul Pogba has scored nine goals in his last 11 matches
"It is a different side, a different style, but still United. They have all different ways in their toolbox to get results."
Solskjaer has won 11 of his 13 fixtures since taking interim charge of the club, with the only blemish a 2-0 defeat to Paris St Germain in the Champions League.
Ahead of the Reds' trip to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, live on Sky Sports Premier League, Klopp said: "He has the quality and he had the luck in the right moment.
"He's in charge and there is no doubt that he will be the manager next year as well, that's clear.Special Football Offer
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"Can you imagine one situation when they say 'we are bringing in another manager'? Then a new manager will lose one game and that's not possible.
"He deserves (the job) 100 per cent, he did everything that you have to do to be successful with them."
Solskjaer admitted he may call on Sir Alex Ferguson to come into the dressing room before Sunday's match against Liverpool, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
"I'm really happy for him," Klopp added. "It's not the best news for us but for all Manchester United fans it's brilliant.
"They've brought in all the things Sir Alex Ferguson stood for with all the new things in football.
"That makes them a threat again. They are really back on track. Good for them."Play Super 6
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Last Updated: 22/02/19 9:44am1:03 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial will be fit for Sunday's eagerly-awaited clash with Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial will be fit for Sunday's eagerly-awaited clash with Liverpool.
Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial could be fit to return for Manchester United against Liverpool on Renault Super Sunday, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The pair had been expected to be out of action until the end of the month after picking up injuries during United's Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on February 12.Man Utd vs Liverpool
February 24, 2019, 2:00pm
Lingard pulled up shortly before half-time in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Old Trafford with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, while Martial was injured earlier in the game and played on until the interval but did not reappear for the second half.Lingard has been recovering from a hamstring injury
However, Solskjaer confirmed in his media conference on Friday that both players could return to first-team training ahead of the fixture against their rivals.
"We are looking okay," Solskjaer said. "I hope Jesse will be okay. I more hope than think Anthony will be okay.Special Football Offer
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"They have got to get through these two sessions, they have not been part of it [training] yet. They have been doing some recovery work.
"Every single player has their attributes and I think we showed against Chelsea that we can manage without them.
"We have got options, it is a big squad with good players and everyone is eager to play this game. If they [Martial and Lingard] don't make it, then it might be the same team that played against Chelsea."0:32 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he is not planning any 'mind games' but Sir Alex Ferguson is welcome to address the Manchester United squad if he would like to. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he is not planning any 'mind games' but Sir Alex Ferguson is welcome to address the Manchester United squad if he would like to.
Solskjaer's record of 11 wins in his 13 matches since taking caretaker charge at Old Trafford means his United side go into the meeting with Liverpool full of confidence that they can inflict just a second league defeat of the season on Jurgen Klopp's side.
Despite already inspiring his team to wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, Solskjaer knows that the big matches can be decided by just one mistake.Anthony Martial suffered an injury in the first half against PSG but may return against Liverpool
"We have to perform better than we did against PSG," Solskjaer said. "It's a big game, a big team. We have got to learn from that experience. We have got to stay focused for the whole game.
"Suddenly we are not underdogs any more, suddenly people praise us, they think now is the time to play them.
"All these games are decided on little margins. That is the deciding factor in these big games."2:07 Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his 'outstanding' work since taking over at Manchester United. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his 'outstanding' work since taking over at Manchester United.
While their opponents on Sunday are engrossed in an epic battle for the title with Manchester City and Tottenham, United's return to form under Solskjaer has seen them climb into the top four - with just a point between them, Arsenal and Chelsea - but the Norweigan insists his attention remains firmly on beating Liverpool.
"I am not really focusing on what other teams are doing," he said. "I am focusing on us and what we have to do, to get where we want to be.
"It is a three-horse race for the top, and it is a three-horse race for the fourth position, so that is more my focus - but now it is of course this game.
"I feel we have taken a few steps in the right direction, in the process of becoming what we want to become. That we are a team that challenges higher up the league.
"It's not about pride, it's onto the next one. I never look back, I just want to see forward."Play Super 6
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Liverpool are well aware of the threat Manchester United will pose on Sunday but will head to Old Trafford with designs only on bringing the three points back to Anfield, Mohamed Salah insists.
The Reds take on their rivals aiming to go to clear at the top of the Premier League table; however, they will tackle a United side unbeaten in the division since appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager in December.
Salah told Premier League Productions: “They are unbeaten in their last nine [league] games, so they are in a good way and they want to win against us.
“Everyone knows about Liverpool and Manchester United. They have good players – even before they won their last 10/11 games, they have had very good players from the beginning of the season.
“They have a good team and now they are winning, winning, winning, so they have confidence, but at the end of the day we want to win the game. Whoever we play against, we want to win the game.”
Of the current Premier League teams, United are the only opponent Salah hasn’t managed to net against since arriving on Merseyside in the summer of 2017.
It’s a statistic the Egyptian will be aiming to bring to an end on Sunday and move clear of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the division’s top scorers rankings – but Salah insists helping the Reds win matches is his sole priority.
“As I’ve said before, for me, the record is not that important,” he explained. “Being the top scorer is important, but it never counts as No.1 – the Premier League is No.1.
“If we win [a game] 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 and anyone else scores, I don’t mind, I would be very, very happy. For me, the team is the most important thing.
“I hope I can score [Premier League goal numbers] 50, 51, 52… but the most important thing is to win [our] game.
“We need to stay first in the table and that’s something very important for us.”
Jürgen Klopp will preview Liverpool's trip to Manchester United at Melwood on Friday - watch the boss' press conference live and free with us from 11am GMT.
The boss is set to face the media ahead of the Reds' Premier League game at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Return to this page shortly before the scheduled start time to watch Klopp's briefing in full via YouTube.
Last Updated: 22/02/19 5:57am1:05 Mohamed Salah insists in such a close title race, enjoyment is difficult with so much pressure involved Mohamed Salah insists in such a close title race, enjoyment is difficult with so much pressure involved
Mohamed Salah believes that with Liverpool in the position they are in, they cannot just enjoy their season, with a "dream" Premier League title so close.
Liverpool take on rivals Manchester United in the first part of a blockbuster Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with Salah's side trailing leaders Manchester City on goal difference.
With City taking on Chelsea in Sunday's Carabao Cup final, also live on Sky Sports, even a point at Old Trafford will see Liverpool reclaim top spot, and in such a tight title race, added to the pressure of pursuing a first-ever Liverpool Premier League crown, Salah insists enjoyment is hard to come by.Man Utd vs Liverpool
February 24, 2019, 2:00pm
"You can feel it [the pressure] because you are still a human being," Salah said in an interview with Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher. "For me it is not a big deal if I win a game now or three weeks ago. I want to win each game, but for myself I said that we are playing for the Premier League, so there is pressure.
"Also there is pressure for Man City. I said in November that there is pressure and it will be there until the end of the season, because when you play for the Premier League you have to accept that there is pressure. When you go home you can take it with you, but it can help you to work harder and focus on your game.Special Football Offer
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"To enjoy it is not enough, from my side. At the end of the day you have a target in your mind, you have a dream, you want to win the Premier League. I even said that two years ago when I came - it is a dream to win the Premier League."
The United encounter is the first of three tough fixtures in a week for Liverpool, with a midweek clash with Watford and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, to come - a run of games that is not lost on Salah.Everton vs Liverpool
March 3, 2019, 4:00pm
Live on1:11 Salah believes Liverpool's clash with Manchester United is not the only tough fixture coming for his side Salah believes Liverpool's clash with Manchester United is not the only tough fixture coming for his side
"It is a very big week for us," Salah added. "And if we win three games and are top of the table, that is huge for us. When you have three games in a week or ten days, you just need to win, win, win, then after that you have time to think.
"Even when we are not top of the league, I know how much United want to win against Liverpool and Everton the same. For me it is not a big deal. We just need to do what we have been doing for the last couple of months."Play Super 6
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The Reds are occasionally criticised for lacking depth in certain areas, but that cannot be said for their options in the middle of the park.
All this in the continued absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, too.
Liverpool their biggest game of the season so far on Sunday, heading to Old Trafford to face a United side thriving under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and aiming to dent their rivals’ title chances.
So who does Klopp start in midfield?
Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) spoke to Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_), Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie), Adam Smith (@Adam_Smith_82) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) to discuss who they would go with ahead of the hotly anticipated game.Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita
ADAM: I’ve long been a Henderson fan and I thought talk of him playing centre-back against Bayern, in order to ensure Fabinho made it into the middle of the park, was dismissive of the captain’s ability.
I was made up to see him produce a man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League and he’d be the first name on my teamsheet at Old Trafford as a result.
Personally, I’d be tempted to stick with the same midfield and defence, only with Van Dijk coming back in for Matip, with Fabinho at the back.
That doesn’t leave us with much off the bench, though, and personally I remain unconvinced that Milner is a solution to midfield problems.
JOEL: The big caveat I should add here is that I would also start Fabinho, but alongside Van Dijk at the back.
United’s most dangerous zone is that attacking left position with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford and I feel more confident in Fabinho playing there than Matip, who I think they would target as a clear weakness.
Henderson was superb against Bayern and you need his experience and leadership in these kind of games.
Gini needs no explanation: he’s undroppable for me. I would also start Keita as he’s starting to find some form finally after growing in confidence in recent games.
I wouldn’t halt his momentum by dropping him now and he brings that creative spark and unpredictably which offers something different to the rest of Klopp’s midfield options.
I think there is a good blend of defensive steel and attacking guile in that trio, with Fabinho able to step out of defence and use his distribution from deep.Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum
HENRY: Let me start off by saying that this is in no way a slight against Keita’s recent form, which has been excellent.
Leaving him out is done with a heavy heart, but given the opponent, he feels like the most expendable.
It’s fair to say his season as a whole has been underwhelming, and in the red-hot Old Trafford atmosphere, with the game being played at a frantic pace, I would have a lingering fear that he could suddenly be a weak link.
Adam’s idea to keep things the same as Bayern is one I thought about, but Fabinho‘s ability to deal with Pogba means him returning to the No. 6 role is imperative.
Henderson had his best game of the season against Bayern and knows all about the fixture, so he should keep his place.
Meanwhile, Gini is undroppable at the moment and one of the most underrated players in the Premier League.
Keita could have a big impact off the substitutes’ bench when legs are tiring, while Milner’s know-how could also be handy.
A lack of guile? Possibly. But imposing characters are required more when it’s United away.Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita
MATT: I can certainly see the rationale behind a midfield of Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum, but it lacks goal threat and the ability to play vertically.
Keita is in good form at the moment and he can get some joy against United’s midfield, either drawing fouls from Ander Herrera, or by dribbling past Nemanja Matic.
Wijnaldum is absolutely vital to what Liverpool do in the middle, leaving only one more position.
And for me, Fabinho offers more than Henderson. Superb at breaking up play, excellent on the ball and works excellently alongside Wijnaldum.
JACK: It’s a difficult one after Henderson performed so well on Tuesday, but I can’t look past the three best midfielders at the club: Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Keita.
I believe last time out in the league was the first game they have started together in a three-man midfield, and they produced a fluid, top-level display.
There is an argument to be made for Fabinho being better than Matip at centre-back, but with Van Dijk back there should be no concern, and the Brazilian should revert to his best role.
Fabinho starting deep, which saw him shine against United in the reverse fixture in December, gives both Wijnaldum and Keita the license to push forward and penetrate.
We need a front-footed approach on Sunday, and this midfield would ensure that.
We round up the latest Liverpool news and transfer rumours on Thursday, as the Reds prepare for a must-win trip to Man United this weekend.
Jurgen Klopp has been fined £45,000 by the Football Association, following comments made regarding referee Kevin Friend.
Klopp accepted the fine, having been found guilty of “questioning the integrity of a match official and/or implying bias.”
The comments occurred after Liverpool drew 1-1 away to West Ham on February 4, when the Reds’ manager said:
“Our goal was offside, I’m pretty sure the ref knew that in the second half.
“In 50-50 situations or 60-40 it was always a free-kick for the other team, which was hard and did not make life easy.”Gerrard to Return to Anfield
Steven Gerrard will play for the Liverpool Legends in their upcoming clash with Milan Glorie, the club have confirmed.
Anfield hosts the much-anticipated match on Saturday, March 23 (3pm GMT), which sees a repeat of both the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals take place.
It is a star-studded event and Gerrard’s involvement only makes the occasion more exciting, as he joins up with the likes of Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler.
Milan have an incredible group of players making the trip to Merseyside, including Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka.Fabinho on Filling in for the “World’s Best”
The Brazilian has spoken about the challenge of switching to another unfamiliar role, lumping huge praise on Van Dijk at the same time.
“But I had already played a few games in that position. We had enough days to work for this game, we even travelled to Spain to prepare, focus a lot on the game, prepare tactically.
“During all the preparation, this worked well, with me there in defence, the communication with Matip worked well, both with him and with Robertson that is on my side, Henderson is also there near us.
“So I think we did a good job here in defence, Joel had a great game, and it was important not to concede at home.”
Speaking of Van Dijk, the Dutchman has been discussing how he wants to be remembered as a player, in an interview with BBC Sport:
“[I want to be remembered] as a legend of Liverpool. I want to achieve amazing things here. We have a fantastic squad, we have everything, we have all the tools.
“They went all out to get me and I want to give everything for them. Before I started training [with the club], I went to the game against Leicester [in December 2017].
“I was in the boardroom and met so many legends, great players who played for a beautiful club.
“When you play for this club, you’ll always be welcome as you’ve been part of the family. It’s one of the reasons I definitely wanted to play for the club.”
He has certainly made a great start in terms of being a legend, with very few Liverpool players ever enjoying such an influential, consistent first 12 months at Anfield.Grujic Sees Liverpool Future
Marko Grujic has shone on loan at Hertha Berlin this season, leading to much debate surrounding whether or not he will return to Liverpool this summer, or stay in Germany for another year.
The Serb has every confidence that he will end up at Anfield again, telling ESPN that his versatility can be a potent weapon for Klopp:
“I think [there is a] plan for the future. From every chat we had so far, I thought that they really think about me.
“Maybe I was expecting to play a bit more, but so far I’m happy how I improved in that time. Of course, my target was to be a regular player of Liverpool and I’m still thinking I can do that.
“We have a lot of options in midfield and we will see next season, but competition for places is always good and natural. I’m looking forward.
“We know how Liverpool play with one No. 6 and a double eight and I’m not really bothered about that. I can play both positions.
“In pre-season we will see what is the best for me and for the team.”
Grujic added that if he were to head out on loan again next season he “would like to come back to Berlin,” but concluded by saying “hopefully I can jump into the team” on Merseyside.Henderson Lauds Returning Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in training for Liverpool, as he edges closer to returning from a cruciate ligament injury suffered last April.
“He has been out for a while now and I’m sure he’s been thinking about that moment for a long time.
“It was great to have him back. He is a great character around the lads and he is obviously a fantastic player, so to have him back within the squad was a big plus for us.
“Hopefully over the next few weeks he can keep progressing and build his fitness up.
“Who knows, hopefully he can get some minutes before the end of the season—that would be a huge boost for the team.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal threat and forward thinking has been a huge loss this season, with the Reds’ other central midfielders scoring just eight times between them, three of which have been James Milner penalties.Sturridge a “Realistic Option” for Betis
The striker is almost certain to leave Liverpool, having fallen way down the pecking order and not scored since his late equaliser at Chelsea back in September.
A move abroad could appeal to Sturridge, who will feel he has another few years at the top, despite such cruel injury problems down the years.
Playing in a slower-paced league makes sense, as well as being the main man leading the line.How LFC Benefits the City
The power of Liverpool Football Club away from the pitch has been highlighted by new figures released by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
They calculate that the Reds boosted the Liverpool City Region’s economy by an enormous £497 million GVA (gross value added) during the 2017/18 season.
A report on LiverpoolFC.com states that the club’s day-to-day activities “support more than 4,500 full-time equivalent jobs across the Liverpool economy (2.3 percent of jobs in Liverpool), a number which jumps to 5,700 when looking at this from a Liverpool City Region perspective.”
The club has also impacted positively on the city’s local community, with the LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours, the club’s two charities, having the following influence:
It’s great to see Liverpool not only thriving under Klopp but as an entire club.