Monday Night Football kicks-off the working week with a battle of the northern powerhouses. An already rapturous Anfield crowd hosts its third game since an 8500 expansion. A rowdy sea of Liverpool and Manchester United reds will undoubtedly set the tone for the most significant North-West Derby of recent years.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw are both nearing a return, but unlikely to start, with lifelong Evertonian, Wayne Rooney, fully fit, but set to be overlooked in favour of the inform Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford. Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne will return to Liverpool’s defensive unit, alongside Loris Karius, who will hope to keep a season-first Premier League clean sheet for the hosts.
A sub-plot has already arisen, with Daley Blind’s father, and current Dutch coach, Danny Blind, playing Georginio Wijnaldum against France, in spite of half-time complaints of a hamstring injury. Wijnaldum was taken off on the hour mark and is now a major doubt for the key midfield battle. The ‘Rolls-Royce’ midfield martial, Emre Can, could deputise for the Dutch midfielder, but Adam Lallana remains a doubt. Paul Pogba, having hit a rocket to beat Wijnaldum’s national team midweek, approaches the match with renewed confidence, with newly appointed England captain, Jordan Henderson, earmarked to limit the Frenchman’s galloping enthusiasm.
There are key battles all over the pitch, but the attention of broadcasters and spectators alike, will inevitably be focused on the increasingly and decreasingly charismatic figures of Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho. Can Klopp’s enthusiastic marathon sprinters overcome the tactical nous and skill of a resilient United team? United begin their first of three games in six days and Liverpool have injury doubts in crucial areas; but neither team will go down without a fight.