Despite an enticing set of weekend matches in the Premier League, it is Monday night’s main event that has all the pundits talking after the international break.

Manchester United travel to Liverpool for a fixture that sees Jurgen Klopp lock horns with Jose Mourinho for the first time in a north west derby.

Here are the key battles in what some are labeling Red Monday.

Paul Pogba vs Jordan Henderson

World-record signing Paul Pogba is naturally attracting plenty of attention as he attempts to settle into United’s midfield after returning to the club in the summer.

In big matches Mourinho has historically looked to keep things tight, especially when playing away from home, so it could well be that the Frenchman’s role on Monday will see him prioritise the defensive side of his game.

That might not sit well with United fans, who will expect more bang for their buck from the big-money man.

Pogba showed his offensive ability with a fine goal for France last week but he will have his work cut out against Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool’s captain will be buoyed at being given the England armband against Slovenia and will be keen to impose himself.

Even though he is only 26, Henderson is one of Liverpool’s most-experienced men when it comes to derby fixtures.

Philippe Coutinho vs Daley Blind

The return to fitness of Luke Shaw means it is far from guaranteed that Blind will start against Liverpool but if he does make the eleven, he will be in for a thorough examination.

While the Dutchman is a composed presence for a big match, he is the slowest among United’s regular defenders – something Klopp will look to exploit, given the chance.

The flexibility in the Liverpool attack means that members of the Red Devils rearguard are unlikely to find themselves marking the same opponent over the course of the ninety minutes.

Philippe Coutinho though, is surely one man who would be keen for a run at what his side could see as a potential weak link.

The Brazilian has improved on his consistency of late and if he can make an impact against his side’s most bitter rivals, then his Anfield status will escalate to new levels.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Loris Karius

Karius has managed to get his hands on the number one jersey on Merseyside over the last couple of weeks and will be looking to cement his place by shutting out United.

The German under-21 international will be under huge pressure in an encounter that is traditionally decided by the slimmest of margins.

For all his side’s attacking brilliance, they are far from perfect at the back and defending set-pieces remains a major issue.

Looking to take full advantage will be a man who haunts goalkeeper’s dreams in the form of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Swede and United’s other physically imposing players will not make things easy for the former Mainz stopper, who will require strong protection from his back four.

Wayne Rooney vs Wayne Rooney

If Wayne Rooney has been hurting from widespread criticism and recent decisions to drop him at both club and international level, then warming up as a sub in front of a baying Anfield crowd will require all of his inner strength and resolve.

The United captain will be desperate to get into the action and there would be no better occasion to produce a game-changing moment than on Monday.

Rooney though, has been badly off form and has been known to lose control of his emotions in the past.

Another England great, Steven Gerrard, was famously only a substitute for his final north west derby in the twilight of his career. His introduction ended with a red card after just 38 seconds.


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