U.S. Markets closed

Premier League: Man United old boy Keane reveals how Jose can overcome Klopp & Co

Paul Wilkes
Michael Keane and Jose Mourinho

Jurgen Klopp's first full year at Liverpool has culminated in the club scoring more goals than any other Premier League side in the last 12 months. The Reds have also netted 18 goals in the last seven matches, as the German's attacking brand of football has begun to take effect.

Roberto Firmino's role as a 'false nine' became apparent in pre-season, with the Brazilian's ability to move defenders out of position and press out of possession now pivotal to Klopp's style. The attacker’s movement has caused numerous problems already this term for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.

“It's about being prepared and organised,” said former Manchester United defender and Burnley centre-back Michael Keane to Yahoo Sport. Sean Dyche’s team are the only side so far to have kept a clean sheet against Firmino and Liverpool, whilst Keane thinks concentration will be key for his old teammates.

“We decided to stay in shape and let them have the ball in-front of us. They didn't manage to break us down, but if we didn't have that organisation on the training field, then it can become difficult if one or two of you decide to go out of your slots to get tight then there becomes gaps.

"The one thing that defenders fear the most is unbelievable pace because obviously they can always get in-behind. You always have to concentrate and be aware of where they are. It doesn't bother me, as you come up against all different types of strikers and you just have to be prepared for it."

On that day, Klopp was without Sadio Mane who has added pace and technique out on the wing, with the advanced midfielders now making more frequent well-timed runs into the opposition area.

Across the M62 the goals are yet to flow to the same extent at Old Trafford, although the introduction of the talisman figure Zlatan Ibrahimovic has seen an improvement. Jose Mourinho's men put four past last season's champions and they have not failed to score in any of their league matches to date.

Marcus Rashford is one of the many attacking threats Manchester United have

The Portuguese coach has an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third, but is still trying to establish which quartet he should regularly rely upon. United have spent over £25 million each on Memphis Depay and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who have made just one league start between them in the first two months of the campaign.

The similarities between the two teams defensively have been fairly obvious, with United having kept only two clean sheets domestically, whereas Liverpool have managed none.

Both sides field natural midfielders at left-back and their best centre-backs only arrived in the summer. Daley Blind and James Milner's performances at full-back is not only a testament to their adaptability, but a sign of the imbalance that remains in the two squads.

United goalkeeper David De Gea has had some surprisingly shaky moments and was at fault for Stoke City's equaliser before the international break. Klopp started with Simon Mignolet as his No.1, but only due to new signing Loris Karius breaking his hand.

“I think it was always going to happen; his injury in pre-season obviously put him off,” said former Liverpool goalkeeper Tony Warner to Yahoo Sport. “I believe Klopp brought him in to be really stiff competition and maybe just ahead of Mignolet.

“The reason why is that I don’t think Klopp would have signed him for nothing. With all things being equal I think he would have put him in. If Mignolet had a really good start to pre-season and Karius had been slightly off form, then I think he would have gone for the in-form keeper.”

The German shot-stopper has not totally convinced since making his debut against Derby County, although he should be afforded time to adapt to a new club, league and country.

“Loris is a very good, young goalkeeper, who was one of my best friends in the team, so on a personal level I was a bit sad when he announced that he was leaving Mainz for Liverpool,” admits former teammate Daniel Brosinski to Yahoo Sport.

“But from a professional standpoint, it was the right step. If you saw his performances over the past season, going to a top team like Liverpool is well deserved,” added the Mainz right-back.

Mignolet has confessed this week that he “expects and hopes to play against United,” which is a remarkable statement considering he has missed the last three matches for the club. Warner understands his frustration having spent five years with the Liverpool senior side as an understudy to David James, but thinks his timing is a little odd.

“I’ve knocked on more doors than the bread man,” joked the former Millwall goalkeeper. “It’s different if you knock on the manager’s door when the team has been hammered, but they have won two Premier League games on the bounce.

“Klopp is looking to give Karius a big test, so why would he take him out and still be wondering about that test? I will be very surprised if he changed the goalkeeper position.”

The keepers have not been helped by the fact that Liverpool have only kept the same centre-back partnership for consecutive league matches once, whilst they conceded five goals across the two matches. Injuries and off-field problems have led to this dilemma, although Klopp appears to have settled upon Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren as his first choice pairing.

In 1994, Anfield witnessed a 3-3 classic between the sides, as central defender Neil 'Razor' Ruddock headed a late equaliser after Liverpool went 3-0 down inside 24 minutes. Graeme Souness resigned as Liverpool manager three weeks later after a shock FA Cup defeat to Bristol City.

This match is unlikely to have that much of an impact on the Mourinho and Klopp in terms of their long-term futures, however, it will certainly set a marker down for exactly where both teams are heading.