Manchester United have endured a disappointing beginning to their Premier League and they find themselves languishing in the bottom half of the table after the opening eight games with just two points separating them from the drop zone.
As such, there are pretty much no positives to carry forward but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to quickly regroup his team following the international break with arch-rivals Liverpool making the Old Trafford trip.
The Reds are currently a staggering 15 points ahead of United in the league standings and they are also experiencing their best spell of the Premier League era, having won the previous 17 games in the top-flight.
Still, they don’t have a dominating record against the Red Devils with just one win from the previous 10 league meetings and United will be determined to stop their rut while ending the Reds’ winning streak.
Here are a few ways United could inflict a first defeat of the league season on Liverpool…
Get Anthony Martial fit and leading the line: Martial has missed more than a month of action with a hamstring injury and during this period, Marcus Rashford has been handed with the centre-forward duties. The England international has genuinely struggled to make an impression with his reluctance to gamble early in the box and he has regularly dropped deep to get possession of the ball rather than maintaining his position centrally. With Martial, there should be an improvement with his mobility in the box while he remains a natural finisher when compared to Rashford, who has been prone to squandering clear-cut chances in the early part of the season. Martial has recently returned to individual training after his recent injury setback and Solskjaer will be hoping that the Frenchman can enhance his fitness during the international break.
Nullify the threat from Sadio Mane: Mohamed Salah has been the main point of attraction when the teams have met previously. Moreover, the duel between Ashley Young and Salah has been interesting to watch. Young had the better of Salah from left-back during a 2-1 win at Old Trafford last year but the latter redeemed himself in the next meeting at Anfield, where he played in a more central role. A similar tussle could be on the cards next weekend but the Red Devils need to be more wary of the movement of Sadio Mane on the opposite flank. The Senegal international has bagged the same number of goals (six) as Salah this term (ignoring the Super Cup) but he has been more impressive with the off the ball movement, workrate and high-pressing. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been immense for United with his strong tackling abilities from the right-back position but the youngster will surely need more support with Mane potentially doubling up with Andrew Robertson on the attack.
Play Paul Pogba in an attacking midfield role: Paul Pogba missed the Newcastle United game before the international break with a recurrence of his ankle problem but Solskjaer has suggested that the Frenchman should be ready for the Liverpool encounter. Still, the manager will need to tweak from his recent tactics such that Pogba can get onto the ball regularly in a position higher up the field. Pogba has largely played in a deeper midfield role this term and this has reduced his ability to find the defensive splitting pass for his forwards. The 26-year-old does have the tendency to be dispossessed when he is playing in an advanced midfield position but he is still United’s best creative player ahead of Andreas Pereira and Angel Gomes, who have failed to impress while Juan Mata has looked past his prime.