Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Complete Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups
While United come into the match on the back of three back-to-back victories, Liverpool are yet to register their first win of the season in the League with four games already played.
Contrasting forms they may be, but in an affair such as this, the much brandished cliché has always been that “form goes out the window." Anything can happen on Sunday, more so in favor of Liverpool if it has to, because the game is at Anfield.
Having said that, Liverpool’s home has no longer been a fortress it used to be. Last season, the Reds dropped points at home and this season has been no different, especially against Arsenal.
Brendan Rodgers will be looking to get his first win with Liverpool in the league. The task could not be harder to achieve this Sunday but no other victory would give the Reds a much more massive boost than this one. Liverpool need that right now, and if it happens the Reds will be a force once again.
The match will be emotional with it being the first home game for Liverpool since the revelation about Hillsborough, “the truth” as it is being referred to, albeit without any hint of jubilation.
There is nothing major to report regarding the team news with both teams carrying over constraints of player absences owing to previous injuries—Wayne Rooney, Lucas Leiva etc. Neither team suffered fresh knocks for any of their players. Joe Cole is still a doubt but Rodgers is better off choosing a youth player like Samed Yesil instead for the bench, as he will last more than 10 minutes.
Liverpool: Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Joe Allen, Jonjo Shelvey, Steven Gerrard, Fabio Borini, Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez
Rodgers does not have many options, and this is the lineup he is trying to settle. This is where I think Rodgers is getting it right and Kenny Dalglish got it wrong.
Dalglish tried experimenting with his personnel very early. Rodgers is giving his players every chance to jell with each other which shows that he empathizes with their problems in adaptation, a good sign for a leader.
Even in the game against West Brom, where I thought a plan B, such as playing long ball with Andy Carroll up top, should have been the way to attempt to get a result when down to 10 men, Rodgers stuck to his guns.
He wants his players to get to know each other as quickly as possible. In four games already, you can see that Liverpool are progressing. “So, judge him after 10 games?” You bet.
Liverpool have a Europa League game as well. Some players can certainly stake a claim for the United match with a performance in Switzerland against Young Boys. Oussama Assaidi and Nuri Sahin can certainly be in line to replace Fabio Borini and Jonjo Shelvey.
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard, Rafael Da Silva, Alex Buttner, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Robin van Persie, Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa
David de Gea had a good game in the Champions League against Galatasaray, but I think Lindegaard will still keep his place from last week. The Danish goalkeeper did not have much to do against Wigan and earned a clean sheet after quite a while. In fact, his last shutout was against Bolton in January.
Then there is the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra handshake to look forward to. For all you know, there might not be one, and it may take a special arrangement to have fans witness that. Evra has been poor, as he once again showed in the Champions League, and Alex Buttner played very well against Wigan.
That has got to mean that the Dutchman Buttner will keep his place for this game. Other than that, Sir Alex Ferguson often starts with the experienced duo of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs for these games, but it would be the Englishman's second game in a row after featuring midweek. Scholes could drop out and Giggs may start, but I think Kagawa will get a nod ahead of him.
So, let us get to prediction time. Liverpool need to announce themselves in this encounter as they have already done so on so many occasions in the past against the big teams.
The Reds are slowly getting to terms with what Rodgers wants them to do as was very evident in the second half against Sunderland. Manchester United are playing well, but their defense still has a few weaknesses that Liverpool may exploit, especially with the nimble Raheem Sterling.
Liverpool wrote a script better than anything that Hollywood may have to offer when they came back from 0-3 down to win against Milan in Istanbul in one of the best if not the best Champions League Finals of all time.
I believe the Reds are poised to write an even better one spanning more than three decades rather than only 150 minutes. I think the start of Liverpool getting back to the top will start from a victory this Sunday. In my opinion, Liverpool will win 3-1 with a brace from Suarez with Sterling and Van Persie also getting on the score sheet.
Please keep in mind, that a certain Liverpool bias may have inflicted the prediction. Do feel free to opine in the comments section without getting too personal.
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