Martial tops bill as Man United cross swords with Liverpool

Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Anthony Martial is set to make one of the most eagerly awaited debuts in recent Premier League history when his new club Manchester United cross swords with Liverpool on Saturday.

Martial, 19, signed from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a reported initial fee of £36 million ($55.1 million, 49 million euros) that could rise to £58 million and the French striker will be expected to enliven an attack that has scored only three goals in four league games.

Liverpool are also short of goals, having netted only twice so far this season, and with each side looking to steady the ship after defeats, there will be pressure to perform on both sets of players.

"Liverpool is the perfect game to have to come back to after the international break," United assistant manager and former scourge of Liverpool Ryan Giggs said at a supporters' event this week.

"Old Trafford will be bouncing for a late kick-off. All the players are looking forward to it and I'm sure the fans are, too.

"Liverpool is always a special game and it's even more special when you win, so we can't wait."

Martial, who will wear the number nine shirt, stands to become the first United player to make his debut in a home game against Liverpool since Ernie Thompson in November 1936.

United manager Louis van Gaal has described the fee for Martial as "ridiculous", but despite having spoken of the need to give him time to settle in, the Dutchman could do with the teenager finding his feet quickly.

Of the three goals United have scored in the league this season, one was an own goal by Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker and the other was scored by Adnan Januzaj, who is no longer at the club.

And while Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford after setting a new England scoring record of 50 against Switzerland on Tuesday, he is without a league goal since April.

- Coutinho suspended -

Van Gaal must also decide whether to restore goalkeeper David de Gea to his starting XI, having sidelined him citing concerns about his focus prior to the collapse of the Spaniard's proposed move to Real Madrid on deadline day.

In midfield, Michael Carrick is a doubt after withdrawing from England duty with a calf complaint.

While United have looked reasonably solid in defence, it will not have escaped Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers's attention that makeshift centre-back Daley Blind was bullied by Bafetimbi Gomis during their 2-1 defeat at Swansea City.

Liverpool have a bruising forward of their own these days in Christian Benteke, who scored twice against United for Aston Villa last season, and are likely to look to isolate him against the lightweight Blind.

Liverpool have problems of their own in attack, however, and will be without Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho through suspension after he was sent off in their chastening 3-0 loss at home to West Ham United.

Daniel Sturridge has returned to training after undergoing hip surgery in May but may not be risked, while there are doubts over midfield trio Adam Lallana (thigh), Jordan Henderson (ankle) and Joe Allen (hamstring).

Liverpool enjoyed a 3-0 win at Old Trafford amid the embers of David Moyes's ill-fated reign as United manager in March 2014, but were beaten twice by their old enemies last season.

After losing 3-0 in Manchester in mid-December, Liverpool went on a 13-game unbeaten run that appeared to have resurrected their season, only for Van Gaal's men to inflict a 2-1 defeat upon them at Anfield in March.

"We have to try to approach it the same way we approach every single game, but we know there is a lot of talking and the fans are more excited about it," says Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva.

"For the players that have never played the fixture, they just have to try to approach it the same way they always do."