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Manchester United vs Liverpool – Predicted starting XI

by Tom Newbold

With the opportunity to secure the double over fierce rivals Liverpool for the first time since 2007, Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to pick a strong team. The last seven days have been the first since mid December without a midweek game and Ferguson’s players will be fresh and ready for this encounter.

Team

David de Gea – De Gea has now completed 720 consecutive minutes for Manchester United and even considering Ferguson’s notorious rotation history, it would be an almighty surprise for the 23-year-old to be dropped on Sunday. Its not going to happen.

Rafael – The young Brazilian has shown United what they were missing at right-back in his injury absence and will be hoping to repeat his superb performance at Anfield earlier in the season.

Rio Ferdinand – After not playing last week versus West Ham, Ferdinand is likely to come back into the team. The experienced centre-back has been vital in some of United’s big wins this season and will need another big performance against Liverpool.

Jonny Evans – Evans has become the stalwart in United’s defence this season and if he brings his ‘A’ game he could be a key decisive factor by nullifying Luis Suarez.

Patrice Evra – Evra was finally rested against West Ham and will be ready to come back into the side for this fixture.

Ashley Young – In recent matches Ashley Young has proved his form to be better than Antonio Valencia and is a possibility to start on the right wing against Liverpool.

Michael Carrick – Carrick has been one of the stand-out performers for United this season and will be undoubtedly selected by Ferguson. In recent matches between the two teams Carrick has underperformed, and he will look to set that right on Sunday.

Tom Cleverley – In some of United’s biggest matches this season, Carrick and Cleverley have formed a successful midfield partnership and now appear to be Ferguson’s first choice pairing. Expect the two to start together on Sunday.

Ryan Giggs – A mixture of factors point to a start for Ryan Giggs against Liverpool. His recent upsurge in form combined with Antonio Valencia’s deterioration are one but also is Ferguson’s history in selecting experience and often Giggs himself, in fixtures against Liverpool over the years.

Javier Hernandez – Perhaps the most difficult position to predict is the partner for Robin van Persie on Sunday. With Wayne Rooney still injured and bereaving for the loss of a relative, Ferguson must call upon one of his other young stars. Hernandez’s excellent form this season makes him favourite to start the match.

Robin van PersieVan Persie is a no brainer for selection. In the form of his life, a goal or two from the 29-year-old on Sunday could swing the match in United’s favour.

Formation

Ferguson has consistently selected a team with width at home this season, and this game against Liverpool is unlikely to be any different. A typical 4-4-2 can be expected, with some common caveats. In the other big games this season (Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City), Wayne Rooney has dropped deep to add numbers in midfield.

With the absence of Rooney for this game, van Persie may drop deeper into a number 10 position, but more onus will certainly be on Carrick and Cleverley to take a stranglehold of midfield. Giggs tendency to come inside at times may also lead to Hernandez and van Persie pulling out wide as United look to attack Liverpool with fluidity and pace.

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