United playing like 'robots', our analyst tells Gary Lim
Paul Parker tells GARY LIM that United under van Gaal are playing like robots
MATCH OF THE WEEK
LIVERPOOL v MAN UNITED (Tomorrow, 10.05pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
1 How do the styles of Juergen Klopp and Louis van Gaal differ?
PARKER: There's a massive difference. Klopp's team are all about expressing themselves on the pitch and vigorously trying to win the ball back, although they haven't been able to perform at a high level consistently.
United players under van Gaal are like robots programmed to keep the ball at all costs. He needs to release their shackles. Against Newcastle, they were more like the United of old but that was only because Newcastle opened up. They scored three goals, but ended up conceding three as well.
2 Who will be the key player for both teams?
For Liverpool, it will have to be Roberto Firmino. He has been inconsistent and can be a passenger at times but he raises his game in the big matches. He proved that against Manchester City (4-1) and in midweek against Arsenal (3-3).
Liverpool v United is always one of the biggest fixtures, so I fancy him to step up again.
Juan Mata will be United's biggest threat, simply because he has impressive statistics against Liverpool. In his last three games against the Reds, he has scored three goals and set up two.
3 Should Klopp start with Christian Benteke or Daniel Sturridge, if he's fit?
Benteke is not Klopp's kind of player. He's more of a typical British centre forward. He doesn't run into the channels or behind the centre halves, and he struggles to score goals without ample support.
If you ask me, Benteke won't be at Liverpool by next season.
As for Daniel Sturridge, he doesn't look like a player who can play through the pain barrier, so unless the doctors can be sure that he's ready, Klopp won't take the risk. I think Klopp will start with Firmino.
4 After scoring four goals in his last three games in the EPL and FA Cup, do you think Wayne Rooney is back to his best?
He's scoring goals again, but I don't think he is back to his best.
He is not going to get back to his best unless he changes his style and mindset and shows more hunger in his game.
People are expecting more of him and they have every right to do so.
5 What's your take on Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who has been erratic of late?
Every top side need a top goalkeeper and Mignolet is not one.
Klopp will have to bring in another goalkeeper because the Belgian has been making too many mistakes, as we saw against Arsenal.
You only have to look across the field at David de Gea to see how a good goalkeeper can lift a team.
Man United got into the Champions League last season and are still within touching distance of the top four this term because of de Gea's performances.
6 What is your take on the jittery defences of both teams?
Liverpool's defence will get slightly better. That line-up against Arsenal was a hastily arranged one because of their injury problems.
With time, they will improve and now that they have signed Steven Caulker on loan, they have a new option.
United's strong defensive statistics are down to the fact that they play a slow possession game, which means they are seldom caught out in the wide areas.
But, sometimes, the strength of a backline should not be assessed simply based on how many goals they concede.
You have to also look at other relevant information too, such as the number of shots they allow their opponents to take and the amount of saves the goalkeeper has to make.
It's ironic that two of the most well-known football clubs in the world have two of the poorest defences in Europe.
7 Are you surprised that United haven't signed anyone this month?
In a way, yes. They need some kind of spark to lift everyone.
The question is, can they trust van Gaal with the money in the transfer market?
Or could it be that they are struggling to attract top players because of him?
United's problems are well documented by now and they need a striker and a centre half.
8 What's your prediction?
I'm going for a Liverpool win.
Scoring the late equaliser against Arsenal was a huge boost. The fans went absolutely mad.
One can expect Klopp to be jumping up and down on the touchline, while van Gaal will continue to be stuck to the bench.
Liverpool will pour forward, close down the spaces quickly and press relentlessly.
Have United got enough to cope with that? I don't think so.
* Paul Parker is an ex-England and Man United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps for his country. He is now a football pundit with FOX Sports.
"As a manager, it is the best thing you can do, to sit there and listen — I needed 10 minutes to understand it all but maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football or something."
— Klopp on meeting former Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
BY THE NUMBERS
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last four EPL games at Anfield (two wins, two draws). But they needed to score in the 90th minute or later to earn their last two home draws (3-3 against Arsenal and 2-2 against West Brom).
- Tottenham v Sunderland
- Bournemouth v Norwich
- Chelsea v Everton
- Man City v Crystal Palace
- Newcastle v West Ham
- Southampton v West Brom
- Aston Villa v Leicester
- Stoke v Arsenal
- Swansea v Watford