The major talking point surrounding this meeting of heavyweights will be the dearth of local-born players in either side’s lineup. It is the worsening symptom of the cash Premier League clubs can now bring to bear when signing new players. However, despite the sad indictment of the current game, it doesn’t have any bearing on the real issue—who to pick for your FLIP teams during the game! Both managers are under pressure despite it being early in the season, so we expect a cagey affair with few goals in the offing (unfortunately).
With Wayne Rooney being United’s only recognised centre-forward, it might appear that Skrtel’s job will be fairly simple. However, Liverpool will need the veteran Slovakian to marshal what has too often been a porous defence. One of Skrtel’s major strengths is in aerial duels, something that may be called upon should Van Gaal run out of ideas and start lumping the ball up to Fellaini. Skrtel’s strength in the air will also be useful in drawing defenders away from Benteke in attacking set pieces, an area Liverpool will feel confident of getting some joy out of.
His Brazilian counterpart Philippe Coutinho is suspended for this match, and without him the onus to create falls on Firmino’s shoulders. Despite a wonderful record in the Bundesliga, he is still inexperienced in this league and Manchester United away is a tough examination of anyone’s skills. If he can repeat the 7 goals and 10 assists he managed for Hoffenheim last season he will be considered a success—but he is yet to get off the mark for Liverpool. Van Gaal will be telling his defenders to keep a close eye on Firmino, and he might be the target for some tough tackling early on to rattle his cage a little. He cost Liverpool a lot of money over the summer—this is Rodgers’ chance to see what he paid for.
Footballers have to be very tough mentally when playing at the top of the game. Criticism comes thick and fast if you’re not playing well, especially when your transfer fee is large. Signed for an utterly ludicrous amount, United need him to be a game-changer—regardless of Van Gaal’s insistence the young man is one for the future. Martial scored a respectable 9 goals for Monaco last season, but he’ll need to improve on that if he has any hope of justifying the cash United have splurged on him. FLIP Sports is going to back the young Frenchman, however, solely in hope that he really does become the ‘next Thierry Henry’.
David De Gea
He didn’t get his move, and Real Madrid were left utterly livid. There was a hint of deliberate incompetence on United’s part, but nothing can be realistically proved—so the young Spaniard stays at Old Trafford for now. He is world-class, and should keep Liverpool out if picked.