Manchester United vs. Liverpool: 5 Dark Horses That May Make an Impact
About 500 million people watched Liverpool take on Manchester United earlier in the season. That number will surely be overtaken this Saturday. If rivalry was not enough in itself, the Patrice Evra-Luis Suarez feud has added fuel to fires manifold to make advertisers salivate at the prospect of the audience for this occasion easily crossing 1 billion.
While United are trying to catch their "noisy neighbors" two points above them, Liverpool have the challenge of catching Chelsea, occupying the final fourth spot for Champions League qualification. Everyone is hoping that this match will be remembered for passionate football only, some of it from great players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.
Speaking of which, it is not always the best players that make a difference in such high-profile games because of the increasing importance given to tactical nous in sports with each passing year. Thus, we take a look at the dark horses that might turn the tide in their team's favor this Saturday.
No. 5: David de Gea
At No. 5, we have David de Gea. People might point out to the FA Cup blunder recently against the same opposition and that is specifically why I have him as one of my dark horses to watch out for. Let us not forget that it was De Gea who earned United a point earlier in the season at Anfield.
Liverpool supporters will be rubbing their hands seeing him between United's goal posts if Andy Carroll starts. However, I would not be too supportive of that view. Who is to say that De Gea has not worked hard at training to build a plan for tackling any aerial threats himself?
If Liverpool get wary of this match being played at Old Trafford and go in with the game plan of intimidating De Gea without offering much else, well, the one who decided on such a tactic might just end up with egg on his face.
No. 4: Craig Bellamy
At No. 4, we have Craig "Speedy" Bellamy. Bellamy has been quite effective against Chelsea and Manchester City recently to be confident of replicating those kinds of performances in the league as well. The game on Saturday is tailor-made for feisty people like him.
With Liverpool strikers bar "Bellers" struggling to find the back of the net, he has provided a good option for Kenny Dalglish to select. This fixture has recently produced a lot of goals and thus there is a good chance that you might win a lottery if you put all your money on Bellamy scoring on Saturday.
No. 3: Michael Carrick
At No. 3, we have Michael Carrick. Mr. Carrick has often been slated by many United supporters and adjudged not worthy of wearing the coveted team jersey. I for one fail to understand what he actually does wrong.
Ferguson must be blind and inexperienced if he decides to pick Carrick week in week out, right? Unfortunately for the other teams in the Premier League, he is not. And he picks him because he can see what he offers to the team that is oozing with flair in Nani, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Ryan Giggs, etc. He is there to provide balance and he surely can pick out a pass at will.
If Liverpool are not careful he might blast the winner past Pepe Reina.
No. 2: Andy Carroll
At No. 2, we have Andy Carroll, certainly one of the worst nightmares a defender can have. What adds to the threat to United defenders is the fact that he is getting back to form and full fitness—not something to look forward to if you are even carrying the slightest of knocks from the previous game.
With David de Gea’s vulnerability to aerial balls, Liverpool and Carroll would be trying to use their strength to telling effect. Having said that, we must not forget AC’s lethal left foot that I am sure Joe Hart can tell you something about.
With all the attention on Luis Suarez, I will not be surprised if Carroll scores the winning goal and gives his career at Liverpool and chances for an England call-up a massive, much-needed boost.
No. 1: Ashley Young
And finally, at No. 1, we have Ashley Young. Young has certainly not been consistent for United yet. Even so, if his magical performance against Arsenal was something to go by there will be no doubts in anyone’s mind about the boy’s ability to change a game.
Coming back from injury, Young has a point to prove to his doubters. Moreover, he would want to show Ferguson what he can provide and get back in the competition for a starting berth between talented wingers left, right and centre at Old Trafford. As a Liverpool supporter, I would certainly shut my eyes if Young gets space anywhere near the edge of the box with the ball at his feet.