John Aldridge on how Jose Mourinho will ignore the 'beautiful game' in showdown with Liverpool
Former Liverpool striker Aldridge is expecting Mourinho to try and stifle the attacking threat of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, as he predicts a battle of wills in one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the season so far.
“As we have seen time and again from Mourinho down the years, he will not consider taking on Liverpool in a straight battle of the beautiful game,” stated Aldridge. “That has never been his way in these big games and I don’t expect him to change that approach now.
“When his Chelsea side came to Anfield in 2014 and secured a win that effectively ended Liverpool’s hopes of winning the title, Mourinho confirmed he is the master of killing a game and winning it on the counter-attacking.
“What he has in his favour with this United team he has moulded this season is that they have a cutting edge in the final third that suggests they will take advantage of Liverpool’s weak spots and hurt them if they get half a chance.
“Mourinho will know that Liverpool’s forward line are dangerous, so expect him to play with two defensive midfielders and try to take the sting out of the game.
He will expect Liverpool to offer up a few chances defensively because everyone knows that they simply cannot defend corners and free-kicks into their box properly and in Romelu Lukaku, they have a powerful forward who can’t stop scoring.
“United are also a very tall team and that will be another factor when it comes to the set-pieces, which is obviously Liverpool’s big problem area.”
Aldridge believes this weekend’s clash is the first big test of United’s title credentials and even though he admits he is no fan of Mourinho, he expects the former Chelsea boss to mastermind a title challenge for top spot in the Premier League this season.
“Jose Mourinho gets his teams winning and whether you like some of the antics he gets up to off the field and the tactics he uses to ruin games when he needs to, the guy wins big trophies,” states Aldridge.
“He appears to have built the most solid defensive team in the Premier League and that is often what he builds his teams around, but the difference from the United of last season and the team he has now is at the other end.
“They drew far too many games to get into the title mix last season, but the firepower added by Lukaku and the form of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford is giving United a dynamic cutting edge.
“The only question mark over United is the fact they have not played any of the top teams yet, but they are off to a flying start and will be in the mix for top spot this time. Mourinho’s history suggests he will probably find a way to win the title again this season, or at least get very close to it.”