Liverpool vs. Manchester United: Players Who Must Step Up in EPL Clash
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There aren't many bigger games in the Premier League than Liverpool versus Manchester United. It's a fierce rivalry that has brought with it controversy, goals and some incredible battles.
This weekend sees that rivalry renewed once more, and there are a few players whose performances will decide the game.
You've no doubt read that David Moyes never won a game at Anfield while manager at Everton. Unsurprisingly, that means absolutely nothing now that he's taken up residence in Manchester. Both teams are unbeaten this term, with Liverpool winning both their games so far.
Something has to break, but the three players listed below cannot afford for it to be them.
Yet to feature in a game for Liverpool this year, Martin Skrtel looks to have recovered from his knee injury and is set to play at Anfield, according to The Telegraph. If Kolo Toure is ruled out, this is a decision that could benefit either team, depending on Skrtel's fitness.
While it would be a comforting presence having both Skrtel and Agger in the starting lineup, if Skrtel is anything less than match-fit he will be in for a difficult game facing Robin van Persie.
Martin Skrtel back for Reds - BT http://t.co/kRWLbMq7Ox— LFC ANFIELD NEWS (@LfcAnfieldNews) August 31, 2013
For his part, Toure stated in an interview with the Liverpool Echo that he hasn't yet given up on playing in the United game. Both of them remain doubtful, but even if one of them plays, it's an immediate defensive vulnerability.
Where's Jamie Carragher when you need him?
The disappearance of Shinji Kagawa from the starting lineup is baffling, but there's every reason to believe it will continue. Tom Cleverley will likely get the start and cannot afford to lose the midfield battle.
Cleverley is accurate with his passes and a good possession midfielder. He also offers a defensive security that Moyes will no doubt appreciate in a game like this—played somewhere close to boiling point for the full 90 minutes.
However, Cleverley's critics will point out that he doesn't have much else to offer and that he'll never be Paul Scholes.
While that sort of sweeping judgement is impossible to make at this point in his career, on Sunday Cleverley will have his work cut out to boss a midfield containing Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho.
In the absence of Luis Suarez, there were some questions raised about who would supply the goals Brendan Rodgers so desperately needed. Sturridge has answered those questions emphatically and will now look to continue his rich vein of form in a game the home fans would desperately love to win.
Who's your money on?
Last year, Liverpool had a tendency to dominate games but not convert their numerous chances. They've done a similar thing so far this year, but the crucial difference has been that the results have gone their way.
If victory is to come against United, however, every chance must be taken. They are too dangerous to be put away with one goal, and even with a two-goal cushion Rodgers will be far from comfortable.
It's up to Sturridge to step up and be absolutely clinical with his finishing. Every shot that fails to find the net is a chance to win the match that just got away.
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