Man Utd v Liverpool: Coral’s five key player head-to-heads
The return of the Premier League promises punters some plumb battles this weekend, with none more passionate than the upcoming Northwest derby between eternally bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool.
Both clubs boosted their top four credentials with some quality summer signings, but how do these two English giants stack-up against each other in key player positions? Coral experts bring you our head-to-head analysis…
Right back: Matteo Darmian v Nathaniel Clyne
These two new right back recruits have both taken to their respective clubs like ducks to water and, having been sold for similar bargain fees, make for a credible comparison.
Clyne may have only switched from Southampton, but the step-up in expectations at Anfield is huge. Early promising performances for Liverpool have seen the England international deservedly reclaim a starting Three Lions spot, though the daring defender can occasionally switch off.
Holding an expert balance between defence and attack, intuitive Italy international Darmian narrowly edges this debate, due to the consistent diligence displayed since leaving Serie A.
Central defence: Chris Smalling v Dejan Lovren
The Reds’ rearguard wobbles have not been eased as expected by former Saints leader Lovren since last summer’s switch. A mainstay for Croatia, the centre half’s confidence looks to have been severely shaken without the organisation he enjoyed at St Mary’s. Man Utd’s marksmen will be hoping the Blazers boy makes another blunder.
Bullish Smalling easily wins this battle on current form, which is not something many would have expected mere months ago. With pace to burn and excellent aerial dominance, the Red Devil is becoming an increasingly imposing figure at Old Trafford, where United are 21/10 with Coral to beat Liverpool to nil.
Central midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger v Jordan Henderson
Consistent captain Henderson has been on instagram showing off his shiny new gym shoes, giving Liverpool fans hope he will make it for the Man Utd clash. The influential England international has certainly been missed, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly gets our nod here if fit.
A decorated World Cup winner with Germany, Schweinsteiger evidently still oozes superior class, but is getting to grips with the pace and stamina required for Premier League life, while Henderson’s dynamism could disrupt the Red Devils in Michael Carrick’s expected absence.
Attacking midfield: Memphis Depay v Roberto Firmino
We have to sit on the fence here and call this one even. Marquee summer signings Memphis and Firmino have four league appearances apiece, but both boast not one goal or assist so far between them.
These two attacking midfield maestros have the weight of expectation on their shoulders, but fans have so far only seen but glimpses of the guile promised by such high price tags. Lots of potential but little end product is the problem for both the flying Dutchman and the brilliant Brazilian. If we had to stick our necks out, Memphis may be the more likely to decide this derby and is 7/4 to notch anytime.
Striker: Wayne Rooney v Christian Benteke
Putting Rooney’s England all-time top scorer ambitions aside, and judging on the fairer stage of Premier League performances, Anfield new boy Benteke (13/2 to draw first blood) is our centre forward pick on present form.
The powerful poacher can cause stand-in centre back Daley Blind plenty of problems, while Rooney, yet to net in the league, is known for performing poorly against the Reds. A record of just five goals in 24 career appearances against the Merseysiders is easily the ex-Evertonian’s worst record against big English clubs.