Liverpool and Manchester United face off on Sunday as the Premier League’s top two teams for the first time since 1997.
The rivalry between England’s most successful clubs has been rekindled by an enthralling title race.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: EPL preview
Manchester United top the table after the New Year for the first time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 thanks to an 11-match unbeaten which took them past Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool surrendered top spot after three league games without a win and could drop to fifth place on Sunday if results go against them. The Reds have not lost back-to-back league matches under Klopp with the last instance taking place under Brendan Rodgers.
The last time Manchester United and Liverpool locked horns in genuine title race was 12 years ago.
Hampered by a series of injuries, most notably to talismanic centre-back Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have already dropped more points in 17 games than they have in either of the past two seasons.
That has allowed United to overtake them despite a slow start to their own campaign.
Solskjaer’s men won just two of their opening six games, suffering a humiliating 6-1 reverse at the hands of Tottenham at Old Trafford.
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According to Manutd.com, Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic looked to pick up knocks at Turf Moor, while Victor Lindelof’s back problem has kept him out of action. The club have other undisclosed issues on the injury front, with full-back Brandon Williams, who played in the 2-0 defeat in this fixture last term, definitely unavailable.
The selection headache includes which formation to use and how the midfield will be formed, with a number of individuals in good form and pressing for a place.
“Well, I think we have as many injuries as them,” revealed Ole at his press conference. “That’s just how football is, you get injuries and that’s just part and parcel of the game.
“I’ll give everyone tomorrow as well to prove their fitness, to get a chance to go to that game. There are a couple of knocks that we got at Burnley that I’m not sure about. For us, form goes out the window when you play your rivals.
“I’m going to give everyone a chance, another day. Anthony is not out of it.
“I think the only ones that are certainly out it are Brandon and Phil Jones. They are the two that definitely cannot make the game. A couple of others may be doubts, but we’re hoping – fingers crossed.”
Liverpool will carefully judge Joel Matip’s readiness ahead of the clash.
Matip has been sidelined since sustaining an adductor injury during the Reds’ 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on 27 December.
“Joel is close,” said the manager on Friday. “Does it now make sense to throw him into a game with one or two sessions, which he didn’t do yet, but today and tomorrow he might be involved?
“To bring him [in], I don’t know. We have to see, we have to decide, we have to look at him and how he will train, how he looks in training and these kind of things.”
On the likelihood of Jordan Henderson again being deployed in central defence if Matip is not available, Klopp added: “We have still different solutions.
“Hendo is very important in midfield for us as well, so we just have to see. It’s not decided yet, why should I?”
Naby Keita is definitely ruled out, however.
“Now we just had to put on the brake and say, ‘Let’s settle it properly.’ In the moment we have alternatives in midfield, so we really try to give him all the time he needs to get 100 per cent fit,” Klopp said.
Thiago is in line to make his long-awaited Anfield debut for the club, while Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri could reach the milestones of 150 and 50 Liverpool appearances respectively if they feature.
“He had now 90 and 45 minutes in the last two games,” Klopp noted on Thiago. “So, we will see if he can play, which position he will play because there are obviously different options and all that stuff.”