The season’s most awaited game is finally here. Manchester United welcome old foes Liverpool at Old Trafford and as always all eyes in the footballing world will be on this fixture.
On the back of five successive victories, United will be going into the game with intensity and determination to make it six in a row. Liverpool, on the other hand, have been knocked in the group stages of the Champions League. Confidence levels will be low but all is forgotten when it comes to these two teams going against each other.
United will be looking to consolidate their grip on third in the table as well as close the gap between themselves and rivals Manchester City. Expect an enthralling fixture for sure.
Brendan Rodgers’ men are languishing in ninth place and are already seven points behind third placed United. The loss of Luis Suarez is clearly starting to take its toll on a side that relies heavily on creativity from a rather young set of players in Raheem Sterling, Phillipe Coutinho and the numerous signings they made in the summer. Daniel Sturridge’s injury hasn’t helped their cause either, as the Englishmen was expected to take the reins from Luis Suarez for the men from Merseyside. The man who famously said “You look at Tottenham, when you spend £100 million, you’re expected to win the trophy,” finds himself in the hot seat.
Manchester United Team News
Angel Di Maria has been ruled out for this crucial fixture and he will undoubtedly be a huge loss for Van Gaal’s men. Rafael has trained with the first team for over a week and Phil Jones is also recovering well with returns for both men apparent in the near future. Chris Smalling has been ruled out for a couple weeks after picking up an injury early in the game against Southampton and this could mean Jonny Evans retains his place in the side after coming out unscathed against Southampton. Luke Shaw and Daley Blind continue their recovery from injuries as Van Gaal spoke of finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.
It is getting harder, every passing week, to predict United’s back four with De Gea having to play with a different centre back pairing all season. Marcos Rojo should retain his place and is likely to have a new partner again in Jonny Evans.
Rafael might get the nod ahead of Antonio Valencia, who has done a decent job deputising at full back, yet he is simply not good enough bombarding forward or accurate in his tackle at the back.
Carrick will start in front of the back four and he will hope to finish the full 90 minutes in the same position without having to revert at centre back in the middle of the game. He is likely to be partnered in a diamond in midfield by Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Maraoune Fellaini, unless of course, Van Gaal decides against a back four. Wayne Rooney should partner a rejuvenated Robin Van Persie who claims to be feeling as fit as ever and wants to play well into his thirties at the highest level.
Liverpool Team News
Daniel Sturridge will miss the game against Manchester United but Mario Balotelli is available for selection again, after he returned to training over the past week. Kolo Toure also makes his return after sustaining a groin injury whereas Adam Lallana is also expected to be in the fold after breaking two ribs just under a week ago.
Mignolet will continue in goal, with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren at center back and Alberto Moreno, Glen Johnson in the full back positions. Lucas Leiva has returned to the first team in the past few weeks and he has partnered Jordan Henderson in the deeper positions with Gerrard being moved to a more central attacking position behind the striker. Mario Balotelli is likely to replace Rickie Lambert up front and will have Raheem Sterling and Coutinho in support.
David De Gea remains Man United’s best player this season and his importance to the team has been growing every single week. A solid performance from him is expected if Man United want three points from the game. Robin van Persie has hit peak form over the past few weeks and he’ll remain United’s biggest threat going forward with the Captain, Wayne Rooney in support. Michael Carrick will also be important if Man United want to control proceedings.
Raheem Sterling remains Liverpool’s best creative player. A lot will be expected from Martin Skrtel, seeing the riches in attacking talent United possess. Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva will have a lot of running to do and both will be required to put in good shifts as Manchester United will look to keep possession.
Always hard to predict this fierce derby but United clearly hold the upper hand going into the game, more so with the added advantage that they have the loudest fans in the Premier League behind them. United players will go into this game with immense determination after losing both fixtures against Liverpool last season. The players always have their eyes on revenge in fixtures like these. And with both sides stuttering in defence, expect a lot of goals.
Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool