Kolo Toure Big Miss for Liverpool vs. Man Utd, Daniel Sturridge Goals Give Hope
Liverpool eventually overcame Notts County on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup to make it three straight wins at the start of the 2013-14 season, but the win came at a cost ahead of a vital Premier League fixture against Manchester United on Sunday.
Despite having a comfortable two-goal lead established at halftime, the Reds contrived to let their lower-league opponents back into the game to force extra time, meaning Liverpool played an additional 30 minutes before their big league game.
They also saw three players depart through injury during the match, with Aly Cissokho, Joe Allen and Kolo Toure all leaving the field hurt.
Despite these apparent problems, Liverpool should still be confident of attaining a good result at home against United on Sunday.
Liverpool vs. United and a rivalry renewed
Manchester United had the better of the two fixtures between these teams last season, but the Reds have started the new campaign well under Brendan Rodgers. Two victories with clean sheets leave the home side in a strong position in the fledgling table, and going back into last season, they are now 11 games unbeaten in all competitions.
United, meanwhile, have changed their manager over the summer to bring in former Everton boss David Moyes, who has never won at Anfield during his career.
Playing the fixture so early in the season gives the Reds their first big test of the year, but United have already faced Chelsea this year and will be expected by their fans to make more of an attempt to take all three points at Anfield.
Danny's goals mean Reds need not fear opponents
Liverpool have not strengthened their squad as much as they had hoped to just yet, but their front line is still up there with the best in the league, and an in-form Daniel Sturridge in particular means they will be confident of outscoring their rivals.
A brace versus Notts County took his total for the season to four in three matches, following league strikes against Stoke and Aston Villa.
Even if Liverpool are unable to keep a third league clean sheet in a row, they will know they maintain a good chance of taking a positive result thanks in no small part to their striker. Good pace and power, accurate shooting and great movement and footwork have all contributed to Sturridge's early strikes this season, as well as a steady supply line from the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard.
The Reds will need to be on form in the final third against their biggest rivals, with others ensuring they support Sturridge rather than expecting him to be the only threat against David De Gea and company.
Kolo's absence the biggest hurdle
Toure's departure during the Notts County match will be the biggest problem for Liverpool to overcome.
Alongside Daniel Agger, he had immediately formed a strong and aggressive defensive partnership, but he will be missing for the United match and possibly for a long time after. With Seb Coates out injured, Rodgers must decide between the inexperienced Andre Wisdom and Martin Skrtel, who has not played yet this season and barely at all since January.
Predict the outcome for Sunday's game:
The Reds will need a strong rearguard action at times during the United match, even if they dominate for long stretches, and the form and movement of Robin van Persie easily equals that of Sturridge.
Simon Mignolet will be asked to perform heroics once more at one point or another, and how well the central defensive areas of Liverpool's team cope with the Dutchman—and Wayne Rooney, if he plays—will be key in determining the outcome of the game.
With five days to recover between the League Cup and the Premier League games, tiredness should not be an issue for those who played 120 minutes Tuesday, but there will be little time for Agger to prepare alongside a new centre-back partner.
It might have to be a case of outscoring the opposition to take three points for the Reds, but they should still be confident of achieving their objective Sunday and keeping their 100 percent record going at Anfield.
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