Man United vs. Liverpool: Previewing the League Cup Clash
Manchester United vs. Liverpool is, some would say, the most famous fixture of English football; an intense rivalry that invokes a plethora of raw emotion, passion and intense hatred between the two sets of supporters, and the players themselves.
The Manchester derby may be growing in significance as the blue half quickly emerge into a side capable of consistently challenging for the Premier League title, but make no mistake about it, the stand-out rivalry in the North East is between Manchester United and Liverpool.
And the pair just so happen to be clashing in today's Carling Cup third round game at Old Trafford.
Both teams lock horns having lost their most recent league fixture. Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the 2013-14 Premier League campaign to a plucky Southampton side which appears to be improving week after week under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Manchester United suffered the humiliation of a 4-1 defeat to their neighbours Manchester City on Sunday.
The Red Devils' tough start to the season has finally come to an end, therefore it's time for David Moyes to stop complaining about fixture conspiracy theories and instead focus on winning some all important matches that will strengthen their position domestically and in Europe.
Manchester United and Liverpool's most recent encounter took place 24 days ago at Anfield (see above). The home side ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a Daniel Sturridge goal in the fourth minute, and, as always, it lived up to its billing as a heated and feisty affair, with 30 fouls and six yellow cards shown during the fixture.
Man United may have dominated the passing department with a total of 383 completed passes—some 101 more than their rivals—but David Moyes couldn't find the magical formula that would allow his side to clinch victory.
Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson, Squawka's Man of the Match Steven Gerrard and the roaming Iago Aspas probed the right flank often (see above).
In turn, Patrice Evra had to be on constant alert in order to defend Liverpool's attacks, bravely contributing to his side's defensive duties with one tackle, four interceptions and eight clearances, while their left-sided centre-back, Nemanja Vidic, chipped in with one tackle and 10 clearances (see below).
Unfortunately Liverpool's Glen Johnson was injured in the encounter, so it remains to be seen whether the Reds will attack the that area with such vigour and purpose as they did at Anfield a few weeks ago.
Of course, David Moyes is no stranger to Liverpool rivalry having managed Everton for 11 years throughout countless Merseyside derbies. In the 50-year-old's most recent league battles against Liverpool as Toffees manager, he could only manage two draws against the Reds (2-2 and 0-0) before moving on to pastures new, and thus failed to guide Everton to a victory over Liverpool at Anfield since 1999.
Fast-forward to this season and Liverpool currently find themselves in fifth place in the Premier League, while their arch rivals United flounder three points behind in eighth place. Furthermore, the difference in league position is reflected by their Squawka Performance Scores—Liverpool with a total score of 1,275 and Manchester United on 1,151.
Regarding their current form, Manchester United have scored two goals more than Liverpool in the Premier League this season, completing 235 more passes (2,091 in total) than their rivals.
Whereas Liverpool have constructed a solid defence that has seen them only concede three league goals (see below), allowing them to remain unbeaten in their last six away matches in all competitions—winning four and drawing two.
So, it comes down to this.
With United slipping up in the weekend's local derby, Liverpool looking strong away from home complete with a solid defence and the supporters' expectations draped firmly across the shoulders of the two managers, it's certainly all to play for in their Carling Cup third-round clash.
United have not lost to Liverpool at Old Trafford since a 4-1 Premier League defeat in March 2009. Three-and-a-half years have since passed. Can Liverpool reign victorious in Manchester once again?
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