When Manchester United came out of the October international break to face Liverpool in 2016-17 they did so with a nervy disposition and the match which followed bore few of the hallmarks synonymous with the club. One year on they head for Anfield with a real spring in their step.
Compared to this time last year United have six more points, have scored eight more goals and conceded six fewer. Second-season specialist Jose Mourinho has begun to really stamp his mark on this side, and the form of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial has helped the Portuguese to transform United into a potential title challenger once more.
However, they have yet to be truly tested by one of the heavyweight clubs so far, so the visit to Liverpool on Saturday could be a real watershed moment for Mourinho’s spell at Old Trafford one way or the other. Victory would see their credentials strengthened, yet defeat would leave many once again questioning whether they have what it takes to stay the course.
Paul Pogba has seemingly stepped up his training regimen in recent days but remains a casualty for now as he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury picked up against Basel in September. Marouane Fellaini joins him on the absentee list due to the knee injury he suffered playing for Belgium against Bosnia-Herzegovina this week, while Michael Carrick is also expected to miss out once more through calf trouble.
Phil Jones missed England’s World Cup qualifying wins over Slovenia and Lithuania due to a knee complaint but could be available to join the trip to Anfield, while Romelu Lukaku had no further issues during the international break with the ankle injury which had made him a doubt for the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.
Other than those, Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain long-term absentees as they both recover from ACL injuries. Both could be back in action around the turn of the year.