Key Battles That Will Shape Manchester United vs. Liverpool
The pairing of the old rivals in Wednesday night's tie at Old Trafford has set up a bonus meeting between the two, and one which will be seen as a huge game for both.
Following weekend defeats, the duo will have stepped up the importance of the game too, particularly as United won't want to follow up a heavy loss to rivals Manchester City with a second defeat to Liverpool already this season, with the Reds having tasted victory in the league clash at Anfield earlier this month thanks to a Daniel Sturridge goal.
For Liverpool, bouncing back from the lacklustre 1-0 home defeat to Southampton at the weekend has to be a priority, particularly given that the loss ended their unbeaten run.
So the stage is set for an entertaining tussle, then, and these are some of the battles that could define it.
Shinji Kagawa vs. Martin Kelly
Depending on selections and on the formations chosen by each manager, Manchester United's left-hand side could feature a battle that will be an intriguing watch for different reasons.
Plenty of United supporters have been pleading with boss David Moyes to give Shinji Kagawa more starts in his team, but when he got his chance in the Champions League tie with Bayer Leverkusen last week, he flattered to deceive.
Should he play from the left―which those who watched him at Borussia Dortmund would tell you isn't his best position―then he could find himself up against an opponent who hasn't started a competitive match since an Anfield clash with United almost exactly a year ago.
Martin Kelly has been an unused substitute in recent weeks as he nears full fitness, and with Brendan Rodgers taking the somewhat baffling decision to field four natural centre-backs in defence against Southampton on Saturday, his return could be seen as crucial as Liverpool look for some attacking support down their right flank in the absence of the injured Glen Johnson.
Michael Carrick vs. Luis Alberto
Selection issues are again pivotal to this battle, but the Old Trafford contest could see Luis Alberto make just his second start for the Reds.
The young Spaniard made his Premier League debut in the win over United at Anfield, and he could be utilised in the No. 10 role behind the forward which has suddenly become so vital to Liverpool following injury to Philippe Coutinho.
Alberto certainly possesses quality on the ball, and if he can get enough of it in the right areas then he'll be crucial to the visitors' hopes of success on what will be a tough night.
That night could be even tougher for the 20-year-old should Michael Carrick be sitting deep in United's midfield, something the Englishman is likely to be doing despite the rotation of others.
Carrick and United were completely overrun in the 4-1 loss to Manchester City, and the movement and fluidity of Alberto and others could see them struggle again.
Jonny Evans vs. Daniel Sturridge
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Rio Ferdinand has now made six consecutive starts for United for the first time in four-and-a-half years following the City loss, but the manner in which he and others defended makes it extremely unlikely he's going to make it seven.
Luckily for Moyes, he can now call upon the services of the fit-again defender Jonny Evans, who watched Sunday's events unfold from the safety of the substitutes' bench.
The Northern Irishman has rapidly improved in recent years, and with perhaps both Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic likely to be rested for this clash, his return could be seen as crucial to United's hopes.
He could be up against Daniel Sturridge, who failed to score in a match for the first time this season in the Southampton loss.
Sturridge scored twice as Liverpool rallied to avoid a shock defeat to Notts County in the last round, and he'll again be hoping to start following his winning goal against United in the league match just over three weeks ago.
His pace and movement could make it a tough return for Evans.
David Moyes vs. Brendan Rodgers
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Whatever the two managers were thinking about going into this game will have changed since the weekend.
Moyes has now taken just one point from the nine available from matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City this season, a worrying run that will lead some to question whether or not he is tactically astute enough to win the big matches.
He'll see this as a huge chance to make supporters happy and to quickly move on from the City loss, but then Rodgers will have similar thoughts too.
His side's defeat to Southampton featured a curious, almost non-event of a performance, with many shifting the blame onto the manager for his odd decision to start with a back four of Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure, two of which were substituted before the end of the game.
Like Moyes, the Liverpool boss has to see this game as a bonus and as a chance to get back on track before a Premier League clash at struggling Sunderland on Sunday.
He has a major selection headache, but like his opposite number, he'll be taking this game extremely seriously.
Luis Suarez vs. the World
He's back, and you never expected him to come quietly did you?
Luis Suarez is almost certain to feature at Old Trafford after his 10-match ban ended in the Southampton game on Saturday, the only match that Liverpool lost during his suspension.
Of course the return of the Uruguayan is a huge boost to a Reds side who would have feared they'd never see him wearing their shirt again following the trials and tribulations of the summer, and getting Suarez fully fit, focused and firing has to be the aim for Rodgers and his staff in the coming weeks.
The identity of the venue and the opponents of course means that the circus that always accompanies the forward will be turned up to 11 on Wednesday night, but if Suarez can start getting anywhere close to last season's form then his effect on this Reds side could be huge.
Start impressively here, and the man who divides opinion will be adding so much to his team's chances of progression.