Manchester United vs Liverpool is a stand-out fixture in any Premier League season, and the clash at Old Trafford on Saturday evening is no different.
The hosts are looking to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at Swansea last time out, whilst the visitors have problems of their own; a strong start was overshadowed by a shock 3-0 home defeat against West Ham prior to the international break.
Neither of these two old foes have flown out of the traps this season, but that only adds to the intrigue surrounding this weekend’s match. Both managers are under increasing pressure from fans after spending big money again this summer – Brendan Rodgers needs to return Liverpool to the top four, whilst nothing less than a title challenge will be expected from Louis van Gaal’s men as the Dutchman has now spent more than £250m since taking charge last July.
One position that neither of these two sides has to worry about is right-back. Matteo Darmian and Nathaniel Clyne have a lot in common – both are new additions to their respective squads, both cost around £12.5m this summer and both are finding their feet in their national teams.
Darmian arrived at Old Trafford from Torino having made 133 appearances for the Italian club and impressed for the national side last year – the 25-year old won the 2014 Pallone Azzuro, awarded to the best Italy player of the calendar year. He played all three games in Italy’s group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup (including the 2-1 win over England), and has made a solid start to his Premier League career. Since Gary Neville retired four years ago United have lacked a ‘Mr. Dependable’ at right-back; Darmian is the man to fill the void.
Clyne is already proven in the Premier League, having starred for Southampton over the past three seasons and played a key role in their impressive eighth-placed finish last term. A full-back blessed with pace and strength, the England international is already a key part of a Liverpool back-four that started the season with three clean sheets before surprisingly shipping three goals against West Ham a fortnight ago. Currently England’s first choice right-back, this is a big season for Clyne; a place in the Euro 2016 squad and starting XI is his to lose if he continues his recent form.
Which of these dependable full-backs comes out on top? Check out the stats below….