After a strong start to the campaign, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are going through a rut right now. They will now go up against their arch rivals Liverpool at the Anfield stadium on Monday. The mood at Liverpool is the polar opposite, as Klopp’s men are blowing opponents week in week out and look like an unstoppable force going forward. There are still some weaknesses that need to be worked on but there is no doubt that it will be Liverpool that will be favourites to win the match on Monday. Mourinho is struggling to find the right balance in his team, with Wayne Rooney already been dropped to the bench.
The Manchester United manager will need a plan to deal with the pace of Mane and Firmino, along with the trickery of Coutinho. The match could come down to the battle between Antonio Valencia and Coutinho. There were numerous reports this summer linking the Ecuadorian international with a move away to Old Trafford. However, he has been in a fine form this season and fully deserves his place in the starting XI. If he can maintain this level of performance on a consistent basis, then there is no doubt why he won’t have a long future at United.
Valencia will need to be at his best on Monday, otherwise, Coutinho could easily win the match for Liverpool single-handedly. The one disadvantage that comes with using the 31-year-old as a full-back is that he is actually not a defender. During the course of 90 minutes, he frequently ventures forward into the final third and joins the attack. One of biggest strengths is his ability to deliver pinpoint crosses into the box. Although he has proven over the course of last two years that he is solid defensively as well but against Liverpool, there will be times when he will need to control his attacking instinct and focus on just defending against the threat of a Liverpool counter.
Valencia is physically more superior to Coutinho, therefore he must not give him space to run with the ball, rather he should stick as close to the Brazilian as he can. Mourinho also knows that Valencia is a very hard working player who won’t go down easily. Liverpool front three will surely keep interchanging their positions which is why Valencia must be switched on the all the times. Teams have suffered hugely for losing focus against Liverpool. No doubt it is going to be a very important match for both the teams with regard to the points table, but it could turn to be far more important for the confidence of the players in those two teams.