Manchester United face their biggest test of the 2017/18 campaign so far as they visit Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime for what promises to be a ferocious encounter.
Jose Mourinho’s men have set the pace alongside Manchester City so far this season, dropping just two points and conceding only two goals in seven games. Confidence is surging through the squad but, unlike their neighbours, they are yet to be tested against last season’s top four, and will be favourites to come away from Anfield with a win: Liverpool are conceding almost two goals a game on average so far this season and only have one win from their last seven games.
The Portuguese, however, will have to pick his side carefully following an international break that was even more inconvenient than usual. Marouane Fellaini, an effervescent force since Paul Pogba’s injury, suffered a sprain to his medial knee ligament during Belgium’s 4-3 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina and will be out for three weeks. Michael Carrick will also miss the game with a persisting ankle problem, but Romelu Lukaku and Phil Jones are available for selection despite suffering injuries over the international break, while Marcus Rashford, having played nine games over September alongside starting both internationals for England, could be at risk of being overworked.
In more positive news, however, Sadio Mane will not join the Liverpool attack on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury whilst playing for Senegal that looks set to rule him out for six weeks. Roberto Firmino and Philipe Coutinho both endured long distance ventures with their national sides last week but will start against United.
Here is our predicted XI for the decisive clash at Anfield, with Anthony Martial – not selected for France for the October internationals – replacing Rashford and Lukaku, now with 16 goals for club and country this season, starting up front.