Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be hoping to make home advantage count in their Europa League last-16 first-leg tie against rivals Manchester United on Thursday night.
This will be the first European meeting between English football’s two most successful clubs in history and it sure to be a close encounter.
Louis van Gaal’s United have bragging rights over their neighbours as they have won both Premier League fixtures this season, but with this being over two legs, the Red Devils will not be overconfident.
An early James Milner penalty in the last-32 second leg was enough for the Reds to overcome German side FC Augsburg. However, it was a less than convincing display from Klopp’s side, and they will need to improve if they want to go into next week’s second-leg at Old Trafford on top.
But Manchester United will also be looking to improve. The Red Devils dropped into the Europa League from Europe’s premier competition – the Champions League – after finishing third in the group stages. As a result, United have been installed as one of the favourites to win the competition come May.
However, Van Gaal’s side found it very difficult to overcome Danish side FC Midtjylland. After a first-leg defeat, United also fell behind in the return leg at Old Trafford. But with Marcus Rashford being in inspired form on his debut and Memphis Depay having the best performance since joining the club last summer, United had enough quality to eventually defeat the Danes.
But if United do secure a win at Anfield, then Van Gaal will become the first Red Devils boss to win five consecutive games against Liverpool.
Liverpool could welcome striker Daniel Sturridge back into their starting line-up. The England international has been rested for the last two games but he is likely to lead the line ahead of Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino or Christian Benteke.
Nathaniel Clyne will also come into the side – having been rested against Crystal Palace – at the expense of Jon Flanagan, who is ineligible in the Europa League this season.
Summer signings Joe Gomez and Danny Ings remain out with long-term knee injuries, while Lucas Leiva will also miss out due to a thigh injury. Youngster Jordan Rossiter will not be involved after picking up a hamstring injury.
Milner is a doubt after the England international midfielder was sent home from training with illness.
Jesse Lingard will not feature on the wing for Manchester United as the Englishman is suspended. Captain Wayne Rooney is still out with a knee injury, while Will Keane and Ashley Young will be missing with groin injuries.
Defenders Luke Shaw and Phil Jones have also not travelled to Merseyside.
United may also be without Antonio Valencia, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, who are all doubts for the first-leg.
League Position: Liverpool – 7th (Premier League – 44 pts); Manchester United – 6th (Premier League – 47 pts)
Previous Meeting: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United – January 17, 2016 (Premier League)
Form: Liverpool – WDWDWW; Manchester United – LWWWWL
Key Men: Liverpool – Daniel Sturridge; Manchester United – Anthony Martial
Shoot Says: Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United