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SoccerNation Express – The North West Derby.

Liverpool vs Manchester United fixture is one of the finest in England. It is almost sacrilegious in the Queen’s land to support anyone else. Both teams have had contrasting fortunes and success over the years but in between but belligerence beckons at lunchtime on Saturday when Anfield stages, hopefully, a classic. Writers at SoccerNation take a holistic view on how it could pan out.

LARRY EGHOSA
If money was no object, which player would you take from both teams?

LE: I consider Philippe Coutinho Liverpool’s most influential player because of his superior all-round play especially going forward where he can create chances and wreak havoc on opponents individually. For United, David De Gea is their priciest asset. He has been their most consistent performer since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011. Till date, he’s the first on the team list with his fifth manager (including Ryan Giggs) in charge since his arrival.

phil-coutinho

Which area do you think both teams are strongest in?

Liverpool’s attack is by a mile their best department. The trio of Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino have scored a combined 9 league goals in 7 matches and have been a handful for opposition defences with only Manchester City shutting them out in the league. Like Liverpool, United have thrived most in their attack. Even without a consistent pairing in the attack, their haul of 21 goals is only one goal worse off than Manchester City in the division, seven of which have come from Premier League leading scorer, Romelu Lukaku.

Which area of both teams do you think they are weakest in?
Liverpool will not be winning the league come May 2018 and their wait for a first league title will extend to at least 29 years no thanks to their long- standing problem – defending, which Jurgen Klopp failed to address all summer. After two years in charge, Klopp has a win ratio of only 49%, 3% less than David Moyes who famously masterminded Manchester United’s worst Premier League campaign. United on the other hand look every inch a treble winning team with perfection in all departments. But even though they have been breached by only one team in the league (Stoke City), the defence is the weakest link. This is partly due to the inconsistency of the players especially as regards fitness and in terms of specialization as in the case of make-shift wingbacks Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young who have been doing a decent job.

Which of their performances this season has impressed you most?
Liverpool’s best game was the 4-0 bashing of Arsenal where the with their front trio as well as substitute Daniel Sturridge were all on the score sheet as they gave Arsene Wenger’s men a game to forget. With a similar scoreline, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have played their best game in the 4-0 demolition of Liverpool’s arch rival, Everton. Three of the goals might have come in the last seven minutes but record league winners laid an early marker with a fourth minute belter from stand-in captain, Antonio Valencia and the Red Devils looked very comfortable in a fixture they only managed a point last season.

What’s your score prediction for Saturday?
For all Liverpool’s frailties, they were unbeaten against any of the top sides last season. They might have lost to City this term, but they sure know how to do the business in big games. Without Saido Mane, they have a significantly poor winning ratio but they have the home advantage. Jose Mourinho would sacrifice expressive football which might yield maximum points for his team’s invincibility which guarantees a point and he knows exactly how to get that. These couple with the international break factor will likely yield a low scoring or scoreless draw.
Twitter: @larryeghosa

 

JOSEPH BASSEY
If money was no object, which player would you take from both teams?
JB: De Gea, He is better than your favorite bank, all he does is save.

Which area do you think both teams are strongest in?
Going forward. On their day both team are chaos.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League

Which area of both teams do you think they are weakest in?
Defense obviously for Liverpool, I trust a sponge to offer better resistance than them. For Man United it is a bit tough to call, but that midfield sometimes cool off and a quality opponent (which they haven’t faced) will punish them.
Which of their performances this season has impressed you most?
That performance against Arsenal, not only did Liverpool make the Gunners look like school children, the match perfectly highlighted what Jurgen Klopp is trying to do with this team (though it has never been consistent). Against Everton for United, at some point in the game, it felt like a rock sprung up at Old Trafford that was how solid they were. Everton barely had a sniff.

What’s your score prediction for Saturday?
With Mane out for Liverpool, United should win comfortably 2-0
Twitter: @akajoebass

 

YOMI KAZEEM
If money was no object, which player would you take from both teams?
YK: Mane from Liverpool. Matic from United.

Which area do you think both teams are strongest in?
It’s a contrast: United have a wealth of options in defence and Liverpool have a wealth of options in attack. Weaknesses are the same: attack for United, defence for Liverpool.

Which of their performances this season has impressed you most?
For United: CSKA away. Liverpool: Arsenal at home.

lukakaa

What’s your score prediction for Saturday?
I suck at predictions. If I didn’t, I’d have made millions through sports betting and would currently be living in Singapore.

Twitter: @theyomikazeem

 

TEMITOPE ADEPOJU

If money was no object, which player would you take from both teams?
TD: For Liverpool it has to be Coutinho. I think he doesn’t get the right sort of accolades he deserves – probably one of the reasons he is looking for a move away. Brazilian is lightning quick, good control and has a wicked right foot. At United, David De Gea gets the nod; best goalkeeper in the world? Yes? – Spaniard definitely not far off if he isn’t. His saves alone keeps United going even when not playing well.

Which area do you think both teams are strongest in?
Manchester United has a strong spine this season and it’s a bit difficult to figure where Mourinho’s stead lies. Obviously, Lukaku and Co are running riot in front of goal but Matić is also doing a stellar job, help screening his defenders well. Jones in my opinion has surprised, seems to be growing in confidence and could be a lot better if he stays fit. Liverpool have their strength solely in the final third of the opposition half. If Lukaku is dispatching teams via sheer power, Mane, Coutinho, Firmino and Salah have looked to destroy teams through intricate passes and intelligent movements.

Which area of both teams do you think they are weakest in?

Both teams seems to be suffering defensive frailties but one is a nightmare that won’t just go away – It’s Liverpool. It could be said that Jurgen Klopp is not one respectable for that kind of prowess but having spent about two years at the helm, he should have figured out a way to shore up the back ; No surprises they have conceded the highest number of goals among the teams on the top half of the table, 12,alongside Watford. Mourinho’s problems are a little benign but it is STILL a problem – the left back. Having played Young, Blind and Damian at that position at intervals, it is uncertain if Jose trusts anyone yet to take that spot.

salah

Which of their performances this season has impressed you most?
It’s easy to pick the four-nils, explosive counter attacks and well taken goals but that 1 – 0 win at St Mary’s stood out – not a beautiful performance in any way, but United showed another dimension to their game; that they could be ornery but still squeezed out the result. Easily, could have been a draw last term. That Anfield drubbing of Arsenal is the climax so far this season for Klopp’s men, a near perfect performance and ironically Liverpool did not concede in that game.

What’s your score prediction for Saturday?
You had expect Liverpool to be ‘bang at it’ from the blast of the whistle – now, it is key how Manchester United reacts, if they are going to be pragmatic like I suspect, then I predict a smash and grab 0 – 1 win for Mourinho’s men.

Twitter: @theadepoju

 

TOMIWA OJO

 If money was no object, which player would you take from both teams?
TO: Sadio Mane from Liverpool: He is pacy, technically gifted and his work rate is very impressive. Marcus Rashford for Manchester United: He is very promising. He has all the attributes to become a World class striker.

Which area do you think both teams are strongest in?
Liverpool: Attack,Attack,Attack the front three (or four) of Mane, Coutinho, Firmino and Salah will pierce through any defence when in the mood. Red Devils in the other hand have looked up to Romelu Lukaku who has thoroughly improved since his move from Goodison Park. Martial, Rashford  and Mhikitaryan have taken turns in the supporting cast roles.

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Which area of both teams do you think they are weakest in?
Liverpool: Central defence, so clear as a bell.  Man United Left-back is looking like a disaster in the making.

Which of their performances this season has impressed you most?
Liverpool: Vs Arsenal. Man.U: Vs Everton.

What’s your score prediction for Saturday?
Liverpool 1 Man.U 2

Twitter: @10qmedia