Man Utd vs Liverpool is a fascinating contest

Manchester United’s fascinating home game on Monday night pits them against a Liverpool side where manager Jurgen Klopp has issues that almost match Erik Ten Hag’s.

Both teams are looking for their first win of the season. Training has been tough for Liverpool this week with injuries piling up.

Klopp said: “It’s been a crazy week. It was like we had a witch in the building. Every day someone else was stepping down for the craziest reasons.

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We were all surprised when Klopp introduced Nat Phillips to play alongside Virgil van Dijk against Palace. He did well after Joe Gomez suffered an injury in training and was only able to play on the bench in the second half. Joel Matip will be out for a few more weeks and Ibrahima Konate is expected to be out for a bit longer. Trent Alexander-Arnold isn’t particularly fit but I understand he and Andy Robertson will be playing against United with Kostas Tsimikas coming off the bench. Klopp is aware that Cristiano Ronaldo will likely play for United despite all the problems surrounding him and Van Dijk will be given the task of containing the Portuguese, especially in the air. In midfield, Harvey Elliott was very good against Palace and he will keep his place, but Naby Keita is pushing for a starting role and he is likely to replace James Milner for the whole game or at least part of it. Klopp, like Ten Hag, has problems in attack. Salah and Diaz will certainly start but Jota’s hamstring injury rules him out and Nunez’s red card means he misses the next three games. It’s a positive for United and Liverpool’s medical team have been working hard this week to get Bobby Firmino fit so they have a strong attack against United’s shaky defence.

The toxic atmosphere has spread further at Manchester United’s training camp this week. After Brentford Ten Hag’s disastrous beating, players were called up early each day and started watching videos of Liverpool, breaking down their strategies and player positions in every game they’ve played so far. Ten Hag’s problem is that he doesn’t know and can’t guess exactly how Liverpool will line up due to injuries at Anfield. One thing is for sure, Ten Hag was horrified by the way Ajax’s new £50m signing Lisandro Martinez was upset by Brentford and his 5ft 9in frame bullied by opposition attackers. Ten Hag knows playing him against Diaz could be disastrous and that’s his biggest problem after his weak offensive line. It’s one of the reasons Ten Hag is grateful that Nunez isn’t on the pitch, but Raphael Verane is being worked on to bring stability to the backline. Verane is seen as the club’s best defender and despite his injury struggles this season, he could address some of United’s defensive issues. United have a much better record with him in the team. Despite Verane’s lack of fitness and Martinez’s poor performance, Ten Hag is considering dropping Harry Maguire and making Verane and Martinez his two centre-backs, but I know for sure that Ten Hag is an admirer of Maguire and is considering this option very carefully.

With Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool defence, Ten Hag needs to improve his midfield and the quality of the balls brought into the Liverpool penalty area. Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen, who will be advanced into a more attacking role, will be crucial in placing accurate balls from deep play into the Liverpool backline on which Ronaldo thrives. Fred is fast but consistently outplayed and McTominay is in form. Sancho will be important for United and he has to give balls to Rashford and Ronaldo and that’s how they’ve been training this week… United are strong on the counter-attack. They must be patient and organized, which was another main aspect of the training. They have to defend as a unit and not play as individuals, which often happens. Undoubtedly, United’s best chance is to drive the pace of the counterattack… they are very good at that and Liverpool will be vulnerable.

Gerrard has big problems in defense

I have contacted Aston Villa regarding Diego Carlos’ injury and the news is not good. Carlos, who joined Villa from Sevilla for £26m, has ruptured his Achilles tendon. He left Villa Park on crutches and underwent an MRI on Monday which revealed the damage. Surgery is inevitable and Carlos could be out of action for six months. Manager Steven Gerrard has a problem at the back with Kortney Hause also on the injured list, meaning he has just three senior centre-halves in contention for a spot: Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Calum Chambers . Gerrard said he was “extremely worried” about injuries at the club.

City put Silva out of Barca’s reach

Manchester City have found the perfect way to keep their star players. Barcelona tried to destabilize Bernardo Silva so they could bid for him. Knowing that Barca are in financial trouble, City have placed a value of £80m on the midfielder which the Spanish giants could not afford to pay. City travel to Barcelona to play a charity friendly next week and Silva will play to demonstrate he is truly part of Pep Guardiola’s starting XI.

Chelsea still want Anthony Gordon from Everton

Chelsea are to reconsider their bid for Everton midfielder Anthony Gordon despite having been rejected twice by Toffees management. Everton manager Frank Lampard admits he must not lose Gordon, who is key to his plans and with the start of the season the results are not going their way. I understand that the only way Gordon could end up at Stamford Bridge is through a possible deal which would involve bringing in two players from Chelsea: Billy Gilmour and Armando Broja. Newcastle and Tottenham made moves for Gordon a month ago but Everton have offered him a new and improved contract which has yet to be signed.

Werner and Lukaku get winning starts

Timo Werner scored on his return to RB Leipzig in his first Bundesliga game. Romelu Lukaku had a good game and scored for Inter Milan in their first game in Italy in Serie A. Interestingly, they couldn’t score in the Premier League for sure and yet they struck the soil by returning to their roots. . What this proves conclusively is that the Premier League is a much tougher test than other European leagues. Opinion: Coaches should be able to comment on referees It always amazes me that players and coaches are not allowed to comment on the conduct and quality of referees after a game. Thomas Tuchel is the latest to face possible financial penalties and a sideline ban for saying he believes Anthony Taylor should no longer be allowed to referee Chelsea matches after highly controversial decisions. The FA have a very bleak view of a manager speaking their minds. Two things come to mind in my opinion… firstly in the UK we have a constitution which upholds free speech so who is the FA to override a fundamental right and secondly isn’t it interesting that Tuchel’s point of view was supported by more than a hundred thousand people who signed a petition that carries the same message as Tuchel?

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