Football Expert & Columnist
Romelu Lukaku can dispel big-game critics against Liverpool, says Jamie Redknapp
Last Updated: 14/10/17 11:50am
Romelu Lukaku can silence his critics with a big display at Liverpool, says Jamie Redknapp...
When Liverpool and Manchester United go head-to-head the world is watching - and what better time for Romelu Lukaku to answer his critics and make a huge statement about his ability to perform on the biggest stage?
The Belgian has got off to a fantastic start at Manchester United since his £90m move from Everton in the summer, scoring seven goals in his first seven league games.
But on Saturday lunchtime Lukaku - and United - will face their biggest test of the season so far.
We've spoken regularly in the past about Lukaku being a flat track bully. Too often he's been a pussycat in the big games. His record of five goals in 35 games against the big six since 2014/15 is not a good one.
But on Saturday, against a Liverpool defence who have problems, he should be licking his lips. He should have too much power for them.
Can he affect the biggest game in the Premier League? Can he be the man? That's why Manchester United paid lots of money for him and this is a big opportunity for him to lay down a marker.
I do think Liverpool are there for the taking. Their goalkeeper situation isn't resolved and I'm not convinced this defence can keep a clean sheet. If you can beat the first press you can get at the backline. But will Jose Mourinho go for it?
Can Lukaku affect the biggest game in the Premier League? That's why Manchester United paid lots of money for him.
Jamie Redknapp on Romelu Lukaku
I think his most likely approach will be to sit back, let Liverpool have most of the ball and then hit them on the counter-attack when they get the opportunity to do that.
That's what teams who have success against Liverpool normally do. If you try to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool you can get caught out and Mourinho won't want to open up against them.
He's the master at managing these big games, though, where he will try not to concede and then shut up shop when his team grab a chance of their own.
The challenge for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool will be to find a way through. They may be missing Sadio Mane but with Philippe Coutinho, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, they have players capable of unlocking defences - and Klopp could really do with an important win this weekend.
This is a huge game for him. At the moment there are still the comparisons between him and Brendan Rodgers. Their records across all competitions are very similar.
In the eyes of a lot of Liverpool fans Rodgers was seen as not being a success, which I think was quite harsh. However, while Klopp's demeanour, his attitude and his passion means Liverpool fans really identify with him, those supporters will want to see the team improving, making the next step.
He certainly needs to improve the defence. But he knows that and went after Virgil van Dijk in the summer. They also need a good holding midfielder and an out-and-out goal scorer.
For those reasons, I never felt Liverpool could win the league this year - and if they lose on Saturday, you'd have to say their chances are very slim, given how strong United and Manchester City have looked.
But these are games which can transform your season. Are they capable of pulling it off? Of course they are. But I've got a feeling it could be a tight 1-1.