As the Premier League season reaches its climax. It appears that Manchester United (barring a huge upturn in form from Wigan, Arsenal, or Hull) will again claim the title.
Throughout the season, their overall displays from goalkeeper to attack, has merited their third successive title.
Dropping only two points to teams in the bottom half is a fantastic statistic, one that Liverpool in particular should take note of.
Despite taking six points of Chelsea and United this season, Liverpool will again find themselves in the shadows of their neighbours to the East.
Manchester United and Liverpool have between them, an absolute treasure trove of talent. I could write numerous articles and superlatives on players such as Ferdinand, Giggs, Teves, Alonso or Mascherano.
Instead here I would like to focus on 4 players who I (and most) consider to be the cream of a very talented crop.
In Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, the North West giants have 4 of the top ten, and in my opinion even the top 5 player in the world. Both combinations are deadly, but which deadly duo is better?
Whilst we will never find a definitive answer to this question, I will attempt to offer reasons for both.
If we first look at the goals for tally, we see that this is a very close run. With Ronaldo (18) and Rooney (12) the Manchester duo have scored 30 Premier League goals this season, giving them the edge. The Liverpool pairing trail by very little with 28 goals (Torres 13, Gerrard 15).
Gerrard has eight assists, Torres has four. This places them 1 behind the United tally of 13 (Ronaldo 7, Rooney 6).
The hard figures would suggest the UTD duo have the edge, however these figures must be looked at alongside number of appearances. Fernando Torres in particular, has had a very stop start season, which has affected his form as well as his stats.
One aspect of the game that I would definitely hand the edge to Rooney and Ronaldo, would be versatility. Manchester, like Liverpool, seem to prefer playing with one out and out striker, two roaming wide forward/winger type players and another playing in the hole behind.
Rooney and Ronaldo can play either of the 4 attacking positions comfortably. This allows other forward players to fit into the team with ease. Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez for example, are both strikers who can play alongside the pair.
Liverpool does not have that luxury. Gerrard is best utilized behind the front man, as he is not the sort of player to lead the line, and less devastating when playing out wide.
Torres is an out and out striker and would be wasted anywhere else.
This means that other forward players have little to no chance of playing alongside them. Peter Crouch couldn't find a place, and Robbie Keane was soon moved as well.
This has left Liverpool with pretty much one senior striker in their squad, as Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt are both preferred on the wings.
The problem then arises that when faced with a spell without Torres Liverpool lack cover in that position.
I would go as far as saying that because Gerrard and Torres are both set in stone for their positions, Liverpool don't get the best out of other players.
Yossi Bennayoun was fantastic when replacing Gerrard against Arsenal recently, and Liverpool fans have been quietly wondering about Babels ability as a Striker since he was signed.
The versatility of the United pair allows other players on the team to shine as well.
One edge that I would give to the Liverpool pair is the relationship between the pair. Working in combination, I believe Gerrard and Torres to be one of the best strike partnerships in the football world.
Rooney and Ronaldo undoubtedly combine together on regular occasions, but I do not think they do so to the same degree Gerrard and Torres do. Ronaldo in particular, I think, is such a good player because of what he does individually.
The league table would suggest that the United pair have been shown as the better of the two, but an interesting statistic may give proof to the alternative.
Gerrard and Torres have so far only started 12 out of 36 games together this season.
You can't help but assume that a few of the draws that occurred, particularly at Anfield, may have been turned into wins with the pair on the field together at once.
Crucially they weren’t.
Football is not about pairs, however, it takes more than 2, 3, or even 10 to tango. Manchester United have shown that their squad is currently a little bit deeper.
The debate about who is the more productive pair however, is very much undecided.
Which do you think is the superior duo? And can they really be compared?
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