Saturday 21 September 2019

United would like a win - Liverpool need one

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini. Photo: PA
Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini. Photo: PA Newsdesk Newsdesk

For many supporters in England, today's lunchtime menu couldn't come quick enough.

Having become increasingly detached from their perennially under-achieving national side, there are a significant number who are now solely consumed by the Premier League.

Even a lot of supposedly wise voices have chosen to join the growing list of those dismissing the relevance of international football.

Tell that to the people of Panama or Portugal - or even the Irish from Perrystown to Portlaoise as they continue to battle this week for World Cup qualification.

In England, the club scene has virtually outgrown its national team, as well as killing an awful lot of the lesser leagues in Europe; the decline of the Dutch Eredivisie, hand in hand with the national side, is no coincidence.

Another reason English clubs despise the international break is their justifiable sense of anger when sometimes the healthy players they release in good faith are damaged goods on return.

Both Liverpool and Manchester United have been deprived of key players ahead of this fixture; Sadio Mane's absence will hurt the home side much more than that of Marouane Fellaini (left) for the visitors, who have a wider range of alternatives in that area.

Mane's absence for two spells last season coincided with Liverpool's least productive runs of form and goals.

Jurgen Klopp is also now under pressure as a result of the constant criticism of his defence.

That has shone a light on their inability to convert chances. Defeat here would be fatal to their title hopes.

United will not make it easy for them to create many opportunities but I do not expect anything like the forgettable scoreless draw witnessed 12 months ago here.

Jose Mourinho's side have progressed steadily since then but only measured against opposition from the lower half of the table; City's impressive start has set a formidable pace which shows little sign of faltering.

United don't need to win but they'd like to. It remains the case that when Mourinho wants to get a result, he usually manages to do so.

Irish Independent

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