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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool's front three, David de Gea and Lukaku's battle with Van Dijk could decide Saturday's huge game between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford.

It’s one of the biggest games in world football with millions upon millions tuning in, but where will Manchester United v Liverpool be settled?

There’s not much between them in the Premier League table - United’s dramatic win at Crystal Palace kept them two points ahead of their rivals in the race for second place behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Both clubs will want to be a lot closer to City next season, but make no mistake that both Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp will want to finish as ‘best of the rest’ in the table.

Let’s look at the main areas where this titanic struggle could be won and lost..

Sky Bet Match Odds: Man Utd 13/8 draw 23/10 Liverpool 7/4

Front threes

Can Roberto Firmino (left) score against his former club?
Firmino and Salah lead the line for Liverpool

You know exactly what you’re getting in this department from Liverpool as Klopp will deploy the Firmino, Mane and Salah strike force that has scored 68 goals this season, with them combining for 11 goals in the last five Premier League games.

Mourinho’s number one priority will be to stop these three from finding space, and while that might not mean parking the bus completely, it will involve flooding central areas and not leaving too much space between defence and midfield.

United have plenty of attacking firepower themselves with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez certain starters, but Mourinho has a big choice to make with Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all seemingly battling for just one place in the team.

Push too many men forward too quickly and you’re opening yourself up for a swift Liverpool counter attack, but mess around with it at the back and the high pressing Klopp loves could spark trouble – just ask City’s backline that played at Anfield.

Salah and Firmino both to score - 13/2

Goalkeepers

David de Gea: Earned United a point at Anfield
David de Gea: Earned United a point at Anfield

You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who don’t think David de Gea is now the best goalkeeper in the world. He’s probably called upon more than United fans would like, but he always seems to answer the call, especially in one-on-one situations and with reaction saves.

De Gea saves everything he should save, he’s made no mistakes that have led to goals this season, but also saves a lot he shouldn’t and he’s already put in a stellar performance against Liverpool in October’s draw at Anfield.

Goalkeeper has been Liverpool’s main problem for some time and it’s now Loris Karius who has a chance to stake an outright claim for the gloves at Anfield. The young German made a shaky start to his career but to be fair he’s looked a lot better in recent games.

He’s actually got 10 clean sheets from 19 games this season but this will be the real test of his credentials going forward. United will look to pressure him as often as possible.

Clean sheet? Man Utd 5/2 Liverpool 5/2

Liverpool full-backs

In Mourinho’s previous games he’s successfully thwarted Liverpool’s attack by packing the central areas and directing traffic into the middle, denying time and space for the Reds forwards, which has worked a treat.

Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold therefore become crucial as they’ll provide the width and the main chance for getting in behind United’s back line. Alexander-Arnold made his first Premier League start in this fixture last season and has been growing into a real talent.

Robertson has also improved after a slightly struggling start, but both will need to not only make runs, but time them perfectly to arrive late and develop overlaps – then their delivery will be the key.

Both teams to score? Yes 8/13 No 6/5

Lukaku v Van Dijk

Lukaku has bagged 14 Premier League goals this season, and crucially notched against Chelsea to break his ‘big team’ hoodoo – he’s now scored in back-to-back games. Lukaku has five goals in 12 games against Liverpool, but none in his last four.

He was not at his best an Anfield, but United will surely get more service to him at Old Trafford and Liverpool’s £75m man Virgil van Dijk will have all he can handle if the big Belgian is on form.

These are the games Liverpool bought Van Dijk for, but these are also the games United bought Lukaku for, so it promises to be an intriguing battle between the two big-money signings – both are quick and strong and whoever wins this particular contest could give their side the edge.

Romelu Lukaku to score in 90 minutes - 6/4

Midfield - Pogba's time to shine

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba missed the game at Anfield this season and gave away a penalty in this fixture last year - he's had his critics this season so this would be the perfect game for him to start to show his real value.

He's the stand-out midfield talent from either side if Mourinho lets him off the leash and allows him to roam and try and affect the game in his own style - whether the United manager will grant him his wish is another matter.

United certainly have more quality options in this department and defensively are a lot more solid than Liverpool, but they'll need to dominate the ball in order to create space for Pogba - and whatever Liverpool's midfield three they're always full of running.

Adam Lallana got a much-needed 90 minutes against Porto, but Klopp's star man here could be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is really growing into his new role in Liverpool and at his best can combine his energy with a creative spark.

His ability running with the ball also offers a different dimension to Liverpool's midfield, something that could again be the turning point.

Paul Poga to score & Man Utd to win - 13/2

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Most Read Football

Leroy Sane celebrates scoring a goal for Manchester City1

Sane shines for City

Leroy Sane scored twice as Manchester City came from behind to beat Hoffenheim and top their Champions League group, where Lyon grabbed the final last 16 spot.

Phil Jones scores an own goal during Manchester United's game in Valencia2

United miss out on top spot

Manchester United missed out on the chance to finish top of their Champions League group after a 2-1 defeat in Valencia, while Juventus lost at Young Boys.

CSKA Moscow celebrate a goal against Real Madrid3

Real suffer record defeat

A young Real Madrid side suffered an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat by CSKA Moscow - their worst ever loss at the Bernabeu in Europe.

UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid will be hoping to win the trophy for a fourth successive year4

UCL knockout draw details

When is it? Who could Liverpool, Manchester United, Man City and Spurs face? All you need to know here...

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri watches his team in action5

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Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has branded the alleged racist abuse of Manchester City's Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge as "disgusting".

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