Liverpool-Manchester United Preview
Manchester and Liverpool will be keen to return to winning ways in Saturday's match at Old Trafford as both suffered league defeats just before the international break.
United (2-1-1) started the season well with back-to-back victories against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, but after a disappointing goalless draw at home with Newcastle, the Red Devils slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Swansea City on Aug. 30.
The Red Devils' assistant manager Ryan Giggs, who played 48 times against Liverpool, is looking forward to the match against his team's long-time rivals.
"Liverpool is the perfect game to have to come back to after the international break," Giggs told his club's official website. "Old Trafford will be bouncing for a late kick-off. All the players are looking forward to it and I'm sure the fans are too.
"Liverpool is always a special game and it's even more special when you win, so we can't wait."
The Reds (2-1-1) also opened with two victories against Stoke and Bournemouth. They then drew 0-0 away to Arsenal before crashing to an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to West Ham United at Anfield on Aug. 29. To make matters worse for the Merseysiders, playmaker Philippe Coutinho was sent off early in the second half after being shown a second yellow card and will miss this match.
Midfielder Lucas Leiva is confident Liverpool can do well at Old Trafford.
"The two teams arrive in a similar situation with a lot of new players, a lot of new signings, and I think it's going to be a good game," the 28-year-old Brazil international told his club's official website. "We just have to approach it in the right way, as we did against Arsenal, and hopefully we get a good result there.
"I think if you get a good result there it can give you a lot of belief and confidence going forward. It's a team that will be challenging for the top four and titles so it's a good opportunity for us to put the result against West Ham behind us and start again."
United boss Louis van Gaal, who reportedly was approached by his players during the break to be more flexible on offence, is hoping Wayne Rooney's goal-scoring form with the national team will carry back to Manchester. He became England's all-time leading scorer by converting from the spot for his 50th goal in Tuesday's 2-0 win over Switzerland, passing Bobby Charlton.
Van Gaal, though, also must decide if goalkeeper David De Gea - who signed a four-year deal with the team Friday to end a protracted saga that included a possible transfer to Real Madrid that fell through - is ready for his season debut. Midfielder Michael Carrick is a doubt with a calf injury, while defender Phil Jones is still absent with mild thrombosis.
Liverpool could be without Adam Lallana (thigh), Jordan Henderson (ankle) and Joe Allen (hamstring), while John Flanagan (knee) is definitely out. England striker Sturridge has returned to training following a hip operation in May, but is unlikely to feature.
United did the double over Liverpool last season, including a 3-0 win at Old Trafford in December. Rooney and Juan Mata netted before halftime and Robin Van Persie scored the third 20 minutes from time. United then won 2-1 at Anfield in March as Mata scored twice in the first hour of the game. Daniel Sturridge pulled one back on 69 minutes, but the Reds couldn't find the equaliser, and Rooney missed a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
United have won five of the past seven top-flight meetings between the sides, with Liverpool's 2013-14 double over United their only wins in that time.
There has usually been a winner when these sides meet. Only one of the past 19 league meetings between the sides ended in a draw, a 1-1 stalemate at Anfield in October 2011.
Overall, United hold the bragging rights against Liverpool in the Premier League, winning 25 times to Liverpool's 13. The sides have drawn eight of the 46 meetings, with United outscoring Liverpool 68-54.