How will Liverpool, Man United line up?

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Bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester United lock horns on Sunday at Anfield (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) but both have plenty of injuries to contend with.

[ MORE: Mourinho: “Job done” in UCL ]

United and Jose Mourinho could have up to nine regulars missing as Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling struggle with knocks, while Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold after losing center backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip over the last week.

Both Liverpool and United play in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, with the Reds battling to a hard-fought win against Napoli at home and a much-changed United losing 2-1 at Valencia.

It is likely that Klopp could bring in the likes of Fabinho, Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri for this game but given the fact that Liverpool are top of the table, and the magnitude of this game against their fierce rivals, he will likely stick with his best possible XI.

Here’s a look at a possible starting lineup for both teams on Sunday, as Liverpool aim to remain top of the table and United will try to play the role of spoilers.


LIVERPOOL

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Lovren — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Wijnaldum —- Henderson —- Milner —-

—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-


MANCHESTER UNITED

—– De Gea —–

— Valencia — Bailly — Smalling — Young —

—- Matic —- Herrera —-

—- Lingard —- Mata —- Rashford —-

—– Lukaku —–


PL Preview: Manchester United vs Fulham

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  • Man United has won 21 of 23 home matches against Fulham
  • Fulham has won just once at Old Trafford in any competition
  • Fulham has lost six straight PL road games

Manchester United returns home a wounded animal as the Red Devils host Fulham on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Red Devils have not won in Premier League play in over a month, without victory since a visit to Bournemouth in early November. They are set to take on an opponent they have had much success against in the past, having lost just once at home against Fulham in 23 matches.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

With pressure heaped on Jose Mourinho – needing a vote of confidence via the boss’s own agent to quiet the noise – Fulham could do significant damage to the Portuguese manager should they achieve a rare result at Old Trafford. It would also be a significant boost to the Whites’ relegation battle, currently sitting bottom of the table with nine points, below Southampton and Burnley on goal differential.

Claudio Ranieri has come on board in place of the departed Slavisa Jokanovic and done well to steady the ship, earning four points in his first three matches in charge, instilling a greater defensive discipline within the squad. Still, the Whites have the league’s worst defensive record by a considerable margin, and could be just what the doctor ordered for a Manchester United team that has scored five goals over the four-match winless run.

Manchester United comes into the match with significant questions on the injury front, with Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones all facing an uphill battle to prove fit. Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof have both already been ruled out with longer term problems. Fulham, meanwhile, looks likely to have both Kevin McDonald and Floyd Ayite back fit, although Timothy Fosu-Mensah is not eligible to face his parent club.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Fulham: “The game is not eleven versus zero, it’s going to be eleven versus eleven, with good players on the other side, the position and points [total] don’t say much about [the] potential of the team. They have one of the two most important managers in Premier League history, they have the potential to come here and give us a difficult match.”

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri on Jose Mourinho: “He was the first who sent me a message to say welcome back. He is a very friendly friend. I know him for a long time, when he came to Chelsea and in Italy, and he was very polite with me. He’s a great man, coach, manager.”

Prediction

This is a tough one to predict, as many possibilities are in play. Manchester United could succumb to its most embarrassing defeat of the season if Ranieri can devise a plan to take advantage of a wounded squad, or the talent of the Red Devils could prove too much for a Fulham side that is only recently beginning to build confidence. The latter is more likely, and the young internationals at the head of the United attack will hold serve at home for a 2-1 victory and leave Fulham still with more work to do in the relegation battle.

Preview: Southampton v. Manchester United

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  • Southampton striker Danny Ings (hamstring) is ruled out while Ryan Bertrand (back) is a doubt. 
  • Man Utd’s Alexis Sanchez is missing with a hamstring injury sustained in training this week.
  • Diogo Dalot is set to make his United debut although Victor Lindelof (hamstring) is set to sit out. Luke Shaw returns after suspension.
  • Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Man Utd has won only four of its 10 PL matches against Southampton, having beaten Southampton in nine of the last 10 under the Scot.

Manchester United can get back into the top six with a win as they travel to the south coast to take on struggling Southampton.  (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jose Mourinho has had yet another tough couple of weeks in charge, with Man United looking off the pace even with a midweek UEFA Champions League win over Young Boys. However, they face another club that’s down on its luck in Southampton, which has dropped into the relegation zone with just eight points from 13 games and no wins in seven. If Mourinho’s seat is hot at Old Trafford, it’s nothing compared to Mark Hughes at St. Mary’s Stadium.

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Hughes saved Southampton a year ago but his time may be running out. Even though it’s on the road, this match for Manchester United could be a chance for Mourinho’s men to find their mojo again.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Diego Dalot, who could make his return from injury this weekend: “Players must be ready and in this case some are going away to the medical room and others are coming back. For example, this weekend will be the first call for Dalot. He’s ready now. He had an important injury and then surgery, and then a second injury with the national team [Portugal Under-21s] when he was already playing against Young Boys and Derby County. When he was almost there, he was injured for the national team but now he’s had two weeks of training and we think he’s ready now.“

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on facing Man United: “We looked at a different thing – different in terms of formation, going back to three at the back. That will have positives in games, and sometimes there’s negatives in any formation you go with, but it was interesting to see how the guys got back to that system and they looked very, very comfortable with it. I think that’s the benefit of the work we’ve done during the summer, so very quickly they understood the fundamentals of that. I just think it gives us another string to our bow. We’ve got to be versatile, we’ve got to be flexible in terms of how we go up against teams, because every team gives you different problems.

Prediction

Southampton is in a bad run of form and even with Alexis Sanchez’s injury, Man United still has enough firepower to overcoming the Saints. Mourinho gets a brief reprieve, while Hughes’ seat grows ever hotter. Manchester United 2-0 Southampton

 

 

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace

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  • Man Utd 10W-1D in last 11 vs. Palace
  • Palace’s last win at Old Trafford came in 2011 League Cup
  • Man Utd leads all-time 36W-10D-7L

Will Manchester United’s young players respond to the latest hail of public criticism from boss Jose Mourinho when the Red Devils host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com)?

The United manager used part of his prematch press conference to question the character of and rip into the “spoilt” nature of young players like Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

United lost its last match before the break, a two-goal defeat in the Manchester Derby no less, and will be itching to get back in the win column after slipping seven points back of the Top Four.

Palace has earned just one point from the last 18 available, though plenty of that is aided by a fixture list which sees United at the end of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Spurs.

What they’re saying

Manchester United’s Juan Mata on Palace“When they play away also because they defend quite compact and they go for the counter-attack, so we need to be ready for that and we need to know what we’re going to face. We need to try to score, try to win and try to enjoy it. Obviously, we’re always respecting the opponent, and Crystal Palace deserves that respect.”

Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson on Wilfried Zaha“I think that his attitude to each and every game, be it a home game here at Selhurst Park against a team lower in the league or whether it’s a top match against the Manchester Uniteds, Cities and Liverpools is that he goes out each time to give a performance, to go and do what he knows he’s good at doing. We try to profit from that as best we can by getting the ball to him and hoping he can weave that magic which he’s capable of and win us the matches. I believe in his abilities.”

Prediction

Who knows what Mourinho is doing with his comments, but United is facing a wounded Palace? The Eagles would be forgiven for looking ahead to Burnley and Brighton, but might Zaha have enough magic to get them a result at Old Trafford? We’ll hand a 3-1 to United.

Mourinho slams Man United’s young players

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Jose Mourinho has hit out at the lack of “character and personality” of Manchester United’s players.

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United currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League table, seven points off the top four after a shaky start to the new season. Mourinho has time and again complained about the squad evolution and how the likes of Manchester City are way ahead of his side in terms of the level they can reach and the expectations.

But these comments ahead of United’s home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) seem a little too personal from Jose.

Talking to Univision, Mourinho revealed the following about the makeup of his current squad.

“They are spoilt kids now, the kids of today have a different life, an easier environment and I’m talking about the people around the players,” Mourinho said. “These people give them too much affection and too many excuses. People mature much more slowly now. We’re talking about Luke Shaw, Martial, Lingard, Rashford – young, big potential, but at the end of the day it results in the word I cannot say, but you use it a lot here… character, personality, they lack a little.”

Mourinho spoke to the media in the UK on Friday and refused to comment further when asked about the Univision quotes, saying something about the “context” and adding that he “wouldn’t play the game” of the media. It appears some of these comments may have been lost in translation, but Mourinho’s refusal to confirm that suggests otherwise.

It wouldn’t be the first and won’t be the last time he has hit out at young players, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Shaw, Rashford and Martial all on the receiving end of comments like this in the past.

Mourinho obviously feels this sort of talk will get the best out of the youngsters in his squad, as later on Friday he went on to reaffirm his belief that United would find themselves in the top four very soon.

“I know it’s a big gap,” Mourinho added. “But I also know until the end of December we have eight Premier League matches to play, and with eight matches we are speaking about 24 points. I believe we are going to be there.”

With a favorable schedule, at least on paper, between now and January, it really is time for United to put all of their issues to one side and kick on after a slow start to this season which relied on late comebacks to keep their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League alive.

Whether or not this young group wants to keep playing for Mourinho, a man who has kicked them at pretty much every opportunity he can get, remains to be seen.