This is it. One of the biggest games of the Premier League season takes place on Saturday with Manchester United hosting Liverpool at Old Trafford (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
How will Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp line up their teams from the start?
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We predict the starting XI’s for United and Liverpool below, with an explanation for how the squads will line up for the second against third clash.
—– De Gea —-
—- Valencia —- Smalling —- Lindelof —- Shaw —-
—- McTominay —- Matic —- Pogba —-
—- Mata —- Lukaku —- Sanchez —-
Explanation: David De Gea is the best goalkeeper in Europe right now. So he starts, obviously. The back four all but picks itself with injuries, but Eric Bailly could start and it’s the flip of a coin for the left back slot. With Sevilla coming up in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, you get the sense Mourinho could start Luke Shaw this weekend and save Ashley Young‘s experience for next week against Sevilla. The midfield trio of McTominay, Matic and Pogba (despite his struggles) have worked well so that should be settled, but perhaps Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial will start in attack instead of Juan Mata. The Spaniard always seems to deliver in the big games (as does Jesse Lingard) and both he and Rashford did well off the bench in the comeback win at Crystal Palace. Also, Alexis Sanchez will start but where should he play? Maybe as a No.10 rather than on the left wing. Mourinho has plenty of options in the wide attacking areas.
—– Karius —–
—- Alexander-Arnold —- Lovren —- Van Dijk —- Robertson —-
—- Henderson —- Oxlade-Chamberlain —- Can —-
—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-
Explanation: Like United, the back five for Liverpool picks itself right now. Robertson seems to have shaken off injury to be ready for this game and the Scotsman has been superb at left back in recent weeks. In midfield Jordan Henderson is battling back from an injury but Liverpool’s skipper should start, while Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emre Can alongside him have been in brilliant form. Maybe James Milner or Giorginio Wijnaldum will come in, but the former is a great option on the bench and the latter has been struggling with an illness. As for the front three, well, we all know Salah, Firmino and Mane will start.