Jose Mourinho faces one of the biggest decisions of his Manchester United reign as he weighs up whether to recall Wayne Rooney for the Premier League clash with bitter rivals Liverpool.
Rooney has endured a miserable few weeks after being dropped by United and England.
The 30-year-old’s troubles have led to a debate about whether he should be used in midfield instead of his long-time role as a striker, while some critics claim he is no longer worthy of his place with club or country.
After crushing Leicester in their first match without Rooney, United were less impressive in a draw against lowly Stoke, and Mourinho might be tempted to bring him back at Anfield on Monday.
Given Rooney’s experience and track record in big games – he scored the winner at Liverpool last season – if Mourinho does leave him out for such a significant fixture it will cement the striker’s diminished status in the Old Trafford pecking order.
Dwight Yorke, a Champions League and Premier League winner during his time with United, has no doubts Rooney is still a force to be reckoned with.
“People in football have such bloody short memories. He just has to get his confidence back and play in the manner we’re used to seeing, banging in goals. Then everyone will be singing his praises again,” Yorke said.
After losing their last four league meetings with United, Liverpool have a chance to make a statement about their title credentials.
Jurgen Klopp’s sides have won four successive matches to climb to fourth place, but the German isn’t satisfied.
“Even when you are good, you need to get better because the teams around you all get better. To stay in the race, development is everything,” Klopp said.
Leaders Manchester City will bid to bounce back from the first defeat of Pep Guardiola’s reign when they host Everton.
Guardiola was unbeaten in his first 11 matches after arriving from Bayern Munich, but the Spaniard’s dream start was shattered by City’s 2-0 defeat at Tottenham and Brazil midfielder Fernando admits that his team must recover their momentum quickly.