Liverpool no match for Man United's midfield
Local S.League coaches say Matic gives United the edge in Pool-Man Utd clash
Some say it's a battle of wits between the two managers.
Others say it's a showdown between the most menacing attack and the meanest defence.
Opinions are divided among pundits and fans on what will decide the outcome of the blockbuster clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield tonight.
Two S.League coaches whom The New Paper spoke to feel that the match will be won or lost in midfield.
Home United head coach Aidil Sharin believes Man United are a different beast this season because of the players Jose Mourinho has brought in, especially Nemanja Matic, who joined the Red Devils from Chelsea for £40 million (S$71.6m).
"Mourinho has been intelligent in bringing in players that the club need," said 40-year-old Aidil, who has supported United since he was six.
The manager got some videos for us to see what (Liverpool) have in their team and how we can stop them, so I’m sure we will be ready for them.”Nemanja Matic
"(Romelu) Lukaku and Matic bring experience and quality to the squad.
"Matic brings the experience to the team by controlling the game's tempo with his reading of the game while Lukaku is a monster.
"He is physically strong and defenders find it hard to deal with him.
"On top of that, he has been scoring goals consistently and he will only get better and better as the season continues."
Hougang United head coach Philippe Aw says Liverpool are leaking goals at the back because they lack a commanding midfielder.
"Liverpool may dominate a game with 70 per cent of the possesion, take 20 to 30 shots at goal, but they are not winning games," said the 40-year-old Cheetahs coach, a Reds fan since he was six.
If you offered Jose Mourinho a draw now, would he take it? Absolutely. You might actually get the same answer from Juergen Klopp because he's under pressure.Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp
"They are not being outplayed, it's just that there's too many defensive lapses and they are conceding too many goals."
"Every player needs to do his job in defending, especially with their high-pressing game. This leaves them exposed to counter-attacks.
"Man United have Matic, Chelsea have (N'Golo) Kante, and Manchester City have Fernandinho.
"Liverpool lack a central defensive midfielder who is disciplined enough to stay in position and make sure that the centre backs are not left exposed."
National midfield star Hariss Harun, 26, agrees that the Reds must get their defensive act together.
"Liverpool are an attacking team but, as much as they attack, they leak as much at the back," said the Liverpool fan of 16 years.
Once you are in England, you realise Man United v Liverpool stands out. When you play for Man United and score at Anfield and win the game, it stays in people's minds.Man United midfielder Juan Mata
"Liverpool have a chance to take down United only if they get their act together and hold a tight line."
Both sides will be missing key players, with Marouane Fellaini out for United and Sadio Mane sidelined with injury for Liverpool.
Lions forward Fazrul Nawaz, a United fan since 1992, believes that tonight's clash is too tough to call.
"It will be a tough game, but I guess it's fair for both sides because they are missing key players," said the 32-year-old Fazrul.
Aidil is convinced that Mourinho is the man to bring the glory days back to United after two ill-fated stints under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
"Jose Mourinho is in a different class. He has a winner's mentality and winning is also in United's DNA," said Aidil.
They don't have a classic No. 9 goalscorer. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are not a Robbie Fowler or an Ian Rush.Ex-Liverpool star John Barnes
"He is a manager whom I respect and learn a lot from, so I believe that he is the man to bring United back to winning ways."
Despite the indifferent form of late, Aw believes Juergen Klopp is the right manager to end Liverpool's title drought since 1990.
He said: "Klopp is the man, and I hope he is given more time to lead the club to win trophies.
"He has the fire and passion that suit the club. But he needs time."