John Barnes previews player matchups for Liverpool vs Man Utd

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With a big Premier League matchup on the cards this Sunday between Liverpool and Manchester United, we had a chat with John Barnes who gave his insights into some of the key player matchups we can expect in this game.

Luke Shaw will need Casemiro’s help to deal with Mo Salah

Mohamed Salah has been in fine form recently, scoring three and assisting two in his last five outings. He also equaled Robbie Fowler’s record of 128 Premier League goals for Liverpool by finding the net in the win against Wolves.

In light of that, Barnes feels that Luke Shaw will have his work cut out in dealing with the Egyptian forward and will definitely need Casemiro to defend spaces where Salah can drift into.

“Mo will be playing against Luke Shaw who is a decent enough defender but he will need help to stop Mo. Casemiro comes across as a very good defensive midfielder, it really depends on how that midfield helps the Man Utd defence to defend.”

Barnes makes the same point from Liverpool’s perspective as Manchester United have been one of the strongest sides in the league this season and their attackers can deal some lethal damage.

“Very similarly from our point of view they’ve got great attacking players. Rashford is on fire. You’ve got Fernandes who can load the bullets. Whether Weghorst plays, we don’t know.”

The midfield that helps their defence – that team will come out on top

While discussing the tactical approach for this match, Barnes explained the upturn in Manchester United’s defensive performances that have come because of the midfield helping out the back four and also mentioned that Liverpool need to emulate that.

“Not only is it a tight-knit United defence, it is a midfield that is helping that defence.”

“Martinez and the other defenders received a lot of criticism early in the season. They haven’t improved, it is the team that has improved to protect them, very much like what Liverpool needed to do.”

According to the Liverpool legend, this match could well be decided by which team’s midfield is able to help their defenders more effectively.

“It really depends on which midfield helps their defence more – that team will come out on top.”

I don’t think we’ll see a straight matchup between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season, scoring 14 goals and setting up three in 24 appearances.

While Rashford operates as a left-winger, Barnes doesn’t necessarily see him being a straight matchup for Liverpool’s right-back, Trent Alexander-Arnold as he believes Rashford is likely to drift more to the centre.

“Rashford has been in marvellous form this season and he is a great player. But I think he, during the game, will end up playing more in the central areas and if he does that it’s more up to the centre halfs and midfielders rather than Trent to defend him.”

“I don’t necessarily see a straight matchup between them but it will be an interesting battle to watch in the game.”

Further elucidating on this potential matchup, Barnes turns the script on this saying that while the attention is on Rashford’s attacking qualities, it will be interesting to see if he can track back and help out Luke Shaw in dealing with Salah and Alexander-Arnold attacking together.

“You can say the same thing the other way around. Who is going to support Luke Shaw when Mohammed Salah is attacking him? The same thing can be said about Trent. It will be very interesting to see if he is going to play with Harvey Elliot or maybe Jordan Henderson or James Milner on the right side of the midfield, so they can help Trent defend.”

“Obviously Trent has his qualities in the attacking phase of the game and he is going forward a lot. But I’m also interested in seeing how Rashford will react if he is playing on the wing. Is he going to help Luke Shaw when Trent and Salah are attacking together?”

I’d be surprised if Jordan Henderson doesn’t start – Klopp will go with an experienced midfield

Barnes prefers an experienced midfield for this matchup as a stronger midfield will be needed against the likes of Casemiro and Fred. He has put his support behind Jordan Henderson and said he would be surprised if the English midfielder doesn’t start.

“Well, I think Klopp will go with an experienced lineup. I would be surprised if Jordan Henderson doesn’t start. It would be interesting to see Harvey Elliot and Stefan Bajcetic in such a big game against Man United but I think he will go with a more experienced lineup.”

“Man Utd is a different proposition. Maybe we feel we need more strength in midfield and when Jordan came on in the second half (against Wolves), we probably were stronger.”

“So Harvey Elliott coming into the team was necessary against Wolves and maybe against the so-called lesser opposition. But against Man Utd, we’d go for probably a bit more experience.”

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