'Captain Mo Salah in FPL' – Man Utd fan's perspective ahead of Liverpool clash

Here we go then. It's the big one.

Christmas is only 10 days away but there's another date circled on the calendar before that: this Sunday Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield.

This summer when the fixture list was first announced, perhaps only the most optimistic of fans would've predicted the difference in the two sides' fortunes at this stage of the season.

While Liverpool sit pretty at the top of the Premier League table after 16 games, United are down in sixth and come into the meeting following back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Bayern Munich – the latter confirming their exit from all forms of European football this season.

Memories of last season's 7-0 are still at the forefront's of minds going into Sunday, but Jurgen Klopp must help his side avoid complacency, knowing that form and basic logic can go out the window in this type of game, which has the potential to provide a Christmas wrecker of a result.

Still, you'd much rather be in Liverpool's boots than United's – with the Reds' old rivals seemingly lurching from chaos to crisis at the moment.

So, what the hell is going on over at United exactly? Is there any optimism at all right now? And will Ten Hag even have enough fit players to field a team this weekend?

Anfield Watch spoke to 90min senior reporter/presenter (and United fan) Scott Saunders to get answers to all those questions and more ahead of Sunday's showdown.

In a nutshell, what is wrong with United?

Years of mismanagement by owners who don't understand football and see Manchester United as a cash cow has led the club to repeated points of failure under numerous managers. They have never built an intelligent football structure and the job has proven too big for every manager since Alex Ferguson to contend with. It looks like it'll be no different for Ten Hag.

Manchester United Manager Erik ten Hag applauds during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Luton Town at Old Trafford, Manchester, England on 11 November 2023.

How do you see the rest of the season going from here?

Inconsistency, damaging defeats, controversy and chaos... Much like the last couple of years have been. The hope is that [incoming owners] Jim Ratcliffe, Dave Brailsford & Jean-Claude Blanc can spend the remainder of the campaign understanding why the club is going through repeated cycles of failure.

Even if they take corrective action, it'll take years to turn around. A managerial change is bordering on inevitable at this point but the next one after Ten Hag will succumb to the same problems unless those above him take action.

How much does this weekend's game matter to United fans?

It matters in the sense of it's Liverpool but you'd be hard pressed to find a confident United fan going into it. United have shipped so many goals this season and are either wide open or bereft of ideas – no in between.

Liverpool are the type of team that could have a field day and they've had a few of those in this fixture in recent years. When the hope is just don't get embarrassed, it can tell you a lot.

Manchester United, ProShots

Does anything give you a weird optimism?

Oddly, Bruno Fernandes' suspension might lead to United being able to assume more control of the midfield if Ten Hag picks the right players. United have a ton of injuries which may mean you see a midfield trio of Amrabat x Mainoo x McTominay, and there's big hopes for Kobbie Mainoo if he's managed right. But to throw an 18-year-old into this game and expect anything is unfair.

What player/match-up etc gives you most concern going into the weekend?

Mo Salah vs whoever the left back is usually provides a recipe for disaster for United in this sense.

Salah has scored more goals for Liverpool against United than any other team and there's no reason to think he shouldn't be your FPL captain for the weekend.

Could Ten Hag go with another big defeat? Would any scoreline mean he has to go?

Another 7-0 (or something along those lines) you'd think would be curtains, but it doesn't seem that simple at the moment given the ownership situation.

United have an interim CEO and Ratcliffe is yet to assume full control. Many believe it's best to stick with Ten Hag through the inevitable pain regardless for the season in order to not jump into a decision of panic. The new ownership starting with a trigger pull on a new manager not only puts pressure on them straight away, but suggests they're choosing someone to take over before they've fully understood the mess they're inheriting.

How can you know if you're not in control of the club yet what you'll need to fix? And what if, let's say, Graham Potter comes in and things don't pick up? What then?

With all the injuries what Utd XI are you expecting to see on Sunday?

This list may clear up but people do seem to dismiss how many injuries United have.

There are confirmed absences or doubts over Lindelof, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Mount, Fernandes, Sancho, Amad, Rashford and Martial ahead of this one and that's a lot for most teams to deal with, and Lisandro Martinez I'd identify as one of the biggest misses in terms of intended intensity and style being implemented by Ten Hag.

Picking an XI based on what I think will happen by Sunday, I'd go with: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Dalot; Amrabat, Mainoo, McTominay; Rashford, Hojlund, Garnacho.

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