Big Match Focus: Liverpool vs Manchester United

Jurgen Klopp needs to continue his proud record against Jose Mourinho but his off-colour Liverpool has it all to do against Man United.

Jurgen Klopp's men have won one out of three in the Premier League since a 5-0 thrashing against City .

English football's most decorated rivalry will play out its latest highly charged chapter when Liverpool welcomes Manchester United to Anfield on Saturday.

Marouane Fellaini's knee ligament injury while on international duty with Belgium added to United's concerns in midfield, with record signing Paul Pogba already a long-term absentee.

Nevertheless, manager Jose Mourinho insisted he would not "cry with injuries" ahead of a fixture in which emotions tend to run high.

WATCH: What happened the last time the two sides met?

United's swaggering and undefeated start to the season – six wins and a draw, with only neighbour Manchester City keeping the team off the Premier League summit on goal difference – is probably a factor in Mourinho taking the high road here, and it feels like tears are more likely to be shed if the Merseysiders find themselves on the wrong side of the result.

Jurgen Klopp's men have won one out of three in the Premier League since a 5-0 thrashing against City and Sadio Mane – their most dangerous forward, who was sent off during that match – is back on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

Both encounters last term ended in forgettable draws but it feels like Liverpool has the most to prove this time around.

KEY FACTS

FORM GUIDE

Although the Klopp is the boss currently feeling the heat, he boasts an impressive record as an adversary of Mourinho's, losing one of seven meetings across his spells with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool (W3 D3).

Since Mourinho took charge of United at the start of last season, both teams have won an identical amount of Premier League points, 88.

However, Liverpool's greater attacking verve has yielded 91 goals against 75, with United's sturdier backline conceding 31 to 54.

The Red Devils have proved a more formidable attacking outfit this time around, thanks largely to Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgium striker is aiming to become the first player to score eight goals in his opening eight Premier League appearances for United, having matched Andy Cole's tally of seven in seven last time out at Southampton.

Manchester United's David de Gea leads the way in terms of Premier League clean sheets this season with six – two more than any other goalkeeper.   -  Getty Images

 

PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD (Simon Mignolet v David de Gea)

The contrasting defensive fortunes of both teams this season is likely to bring the men between the posts into sharp focus.

United's David de Gea leads the way in terms of Premier League clean sheets this season with six – two more than any other goalkeeper. Meanwhile, one of Liverpool's two shutouts came in the 4-0 win over Arsenal, when Mignolet sat out and Loris Karius donned the gloves.

Belgium international Mignolet has been the busier of the two, with 19 saves compared to De Gea's 15, while punching is not a favoured course of action for either man – Mignolet in front of his counterpart 2-1 on this metric.

Only Crystal Palace's Wayne Hennessey (17) and West Ham's Joe Hart (13) have conceded more goals than Mignolet's 12, while De Gea's paltry allowance of two makes him the division's most miserly goalkeeper alongside Manchester City's Ederson.

RODGERS RECORD GIVES KLOPP AN UNCOMFORTABLE PARALLEL

When Jurgen Klopp breezed into Anfield in October 2015, his arrival was hailed as a bright new dawn for the club after Brendan Rodgers' tenure turned stale.

However, if Liverpool loses to United on Saturday, it will have the same points haul after eight Premier League games (12) that did for Rodgers on the back of a Merseyside derby draw against Everton.

Klopp's Liverpool has already comfortably outscored the side from Rodgers' final weeks in one fewer outing by 13 to eight. It averages almost five more shots per game, having taken 137 compared to 119.

The phenomenon of Liverpool apparently conceding clearer chances to more clinical opponents could see Klopp having to answer charges of stagnation this weekend.   -  AP

 

Rodgers' much-vaunted preference for passing football does not shine through, with Klopp's men better off in terms of total passes and possession.

Liverpool's defensive problems under Klopp are borne out to an extent, with Rodgers' men keeping three clean sheets to two over the period in question and conceding 10 goals as opposed to 12.

The Northern Irishman presided over a team that faced 91 shots compared to Klopp's 59, although the 31 on target against the current crop is a figure up five from the previous regime.

The phenomenon of Liverpool apparently conceding clearer chances to more clinical opponents could see Klopp having to answer charges of stagnation this weekend.

HISTORY SUGGESTS

The more optimistic elements of Liverpool's fanbase will suggest the team is certainly due a success against the old enemy.

The host is winless in six Premier League games against United, drawing two and losing four – its worst run since an eight-game winless slump between 2004 and 2008.

Klopp helmed the 2-0 Europa League win in 2015-16, Liverpool's only success in the past eight across all competitions, while United has won on three of its past five visits to Anfield.

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