Match points: Liverpool v Man United

Roberto Firmino.
Roberto Firmino.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES
Chris Smalling.
Chris Smalling.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES
Alberto Moreno.
Alberto Moreno.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES
Anthony Martial.
Anthony Martial.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES
Mamadou Sakho.
Mamadou Sakho.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES
Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney.TEXT: RICHARD JOLLY PHOTOS: REUTERS, ACTION IMAGES

Key battles

Roberto Firmino v Chris Smalling

A false nine like Firmino gives old-fashioned centre-backs like Chris Smalling a problem. At times, he will have no one to mark. Yet the Brazilian represents a dangerous opponent. He has scored only three goals for Liverpool but one came against Manchester City and two against Arsenal. He should be confident after Wednesday's brace.

Alberto Moreno v Anthony Martial

Martial has taken some persuading that he can play on the right. Yet with Juan Mata's lack of pace counting against him, the Frenchman has been switched. He presents a test for Moreno, who has excelled going forward under Juergen Klopp and would rather attack makeshift right-back Ashley Young, but has defensive deficiencies.

Mamadou Sakho v Wayne Rooney

Rooney is savouring the new year. The scorer of just six Premier League goals in 2015 has three already in 2016. Restored to the striker's role, he has regained his knack of scoring spectacular goals and is fighting to keep Louis van Gaal in the job. Sakho is Liverpool's best centre-back, but colleague Kolo Toure could be a weak link.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Match points: Liverpool v Man United Key battles'. Print Edition | Subscribe