Louis van Gaal leads his Manchester United side into the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with arch-rivals Liverpool knowing they have it all to do.
United were defeated in the first leg at Anfield 2-0 a week ago, with a penalty from Daniel Sturridge and a close-range effort from Roberto Firmino enough to put the Merseysiders firmly in control of the tie. But the result could have been a lot worse for Van Gaal’s side were it not for the reflexes of David De Gea.
The Red Devils must win 2-0 to have a chance of taking the tie to extra time, or by a three-goal margin to advance to the quarter-finals, and with Manchester United failing to score many goals this season, it looks a tough ask.
Liverpool’s chances of making the quarter finals of the European competition were helped a great deal by not having to play at the weekend. The Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup in round four by West Ham United, so the players should be up for the battle. In fact, the first leg was Liverpool’s last match so their minds would have been focused on the trip to Old Trafford for the last week.
United, meanwhile, faced West Ham United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday and will have to contest a replay after the tie finished 1-1. But once again, this clash showed that the former Netherlands international manager’s side are still struggling in front of goal.
Van Gaal will be pleased to have Belgian international midfielder Marouane Fellaini available. The ex-Everton man allegedly elbowed Liverpool midfielder Emre Can in the first leg, but UEFA decided not to charge the player.
Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young will not feature at Old Trafford despite recently returning to training and Van Gaal has also ruled out a start for Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is easing his way back into the team after returning from injury.
However, Jesse Lingard is back in contention after missing the trip to Anfield through suspension.
Jurgen Klopp will be able to recall James Milner to his starting line-up after the midfielder missed the first leg through illness.
Martin Skrtel is still out and Jon Flanagan cannot feature as he was not included in the Reds’ European squad.
League Position: Manchester United – 6th (Premier League – 47 pts); Liverpool – 7th (Premier League – 44 pts)
Previous Meeting: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United (March 10, 2016)
Form: Liverpool – DWDWWW; Manchester United – WWWWLD
Key Men: Manchester United – Anthony Martial; Liverpool – Daniel Sturridge
Shoot Says: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool