Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Players to Watch for in EPL Clash

Mary O'ConnorCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2012

Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Players to Watch for in EPL Clash

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    If you are a fervent fan of the English Premier League, you are probably aware of the hotly contested matches taking place this weekend.

    Etihad Stadium will be the stage for a blazing game, where Arsenal takes on Manchester City, but lets face it, the Liverpool vs. Manchester United match is going to be a cracker.

    As always, there will be a handful of players to watch out for throughout the matchup.

    Although the result will not be a predictor of the Premier League title, it will be host to a fiery battle, between arguably the biggest rivals in the league.

    Here is a collection of players to keep an eye on during this weekend's face off.

Raheem Sterling & Tom Cleverley

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    Raheem Sterling fits perfectly into the young and vulnerable category. At age 17, Sterling has justified why Brendan Rodgers should make him a regular starter.

    Sterling loves the ball, and his dribbling ability is just what Liverpool needs on the wing. Sterling’s strengths lie firmly in his ability to make short, concise passes, while his defensive contribution is strong.

    Rodgers is the perfect mentor for the ripe young star, and his appearance in Sundays’ matchup against the Devils is much-anticipated by the fans.

    The question is whether the teen will thrive playing in one of the biggest rivalries of all time, or fade under the pressure.

    Tom Cleverleys’ attributions for United so far have been solid. The young man has shown in the early season forum, with his performances turning heads. 

    Steven Gerrard, England’s skipper commented on Cleverley's recent performances by saying this to Yahoo! UK: 

    He is only a young boy. Games like that in Moldova will be fantastic experience for him. He is playing for one of the biggest clubs in Europe and he has broken into the England team so he has got a fantastic future.          


Pepe Reina & David de Gea

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    Pepe Reina’s form has been unreliable in his showings so far this season.

    The Spaniard, who had an exceptional reputation for the Reds, has been inconsistent, with his weakened efforts, harvesting poor mistakes.

    Against Arsenal and Hearts, Reina made unacceptable blunders, something Liverpool can’t contend with, considering their current position in the league (17th).

    There is no doubt that Reina can improve on his current form, and help, rather than hinder, Brendan Rodgers' side. It’s a transition period for the Reds, and while Reina has lived through change, it is still something he has to adapt to.

    This weekend will be an opportunity for Reina to bury his skeletons and re-ignite his reputation as a fan favorite. If Reina can succeed on goal when pitted against United, his lackluster performances will be forgiven in a heartbeat.

    David de Gea is now a choice goalie for Ferguson 

    De Gea looked extremely impressive against Galatasaray during the week, and if he puts on another strong performance against their biggest historic rivals, he will surely continue as Ferguson’s number one man in front of the net.

    At 21 years of age, De Gea is in his prime, and only has room for improvement. He has gained experience from his rookie season at United last year, conveying his shot-stopping ability, fast reflexes and his capability to distribute the ball successfully.

Joe Allen & Shinji Kagawa

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    Joe Allen was bought for 15 million, significant coin for a relatively unknown rookie. 

    However, we have learned thus far that Brendan Rodgers has reasons for his motives and some have shown signs of success; Allen is without a doubt a huge prospect at Anfield.

    So far, Allen has performed on a consistent basis, playing a regimented role under Rodgers. Allen’s strengths come from his speed on the ball, and so far this season, he has received the ball 211 times, a club leading statistic.

    Allen is excited about the matchup versus Manchester United and has even told Liverpool via that "Playing against United at Anfield is exactly the kind of reason I came to Liverpool.”

    Shinji Kagawa is the ultimate playmaker. The 23-year-old played magnificent football against Galatasaray this week, providing another dimension to Alex Ferguson’s side.

    Kagawa has shown his ability on numerous occasions, and this weekend will be no different.  Kagawa is quick-footed, also possessing an aptitude for perception, making him a real threat on the attack.

Jonjo Shelvey & Javier Hernandez

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    Jonjo Shelvey is not necessarily a certainty to start for Brendan Rodgers on Sunday, but after his performance against the young boys in the Europa League scoring two goals, the 20-year-old will be looking for a place on the pitch.

    Although Shelvey’s efforts on goal for Liverpool have been insufficient in the past, he has shown that Rodgers has given him a new-found perspective.

    Shelvey told the Daily Mail, "I hope I've played my way into the team for Sunday but you never know what's in the manager's mind.”

    Shelvey will definitely play a key role in Rodger’s revolution, and it will be interesting to see whether Rodgers will give the youngster another chance to find the net against United.

    Javier Hernandez has a history of injury, but has enjoyed his return to United with a goal against Wigan last Saturday when he sent home a rebound from Alexander Buttner.

    This goal will act as a booster to his confidence level, and there is no doubt that Chicharito will want to get his right boot dirty again against the Reds.