Premier League Preview: How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Manchester United
A 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield back in September didn’t appear as foreboding as it has proved, and David Moyes’ first season at Manchester United has been underwhelming as they are in danger of missing out on Champions League football next season.
By contrast, Brendan Rodgers has turned his young and energetic Reds into the Premier League’s top scorers, in the process dispatching of fellow top-four challengers Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Everton—quite considerably at that.
Let’s take a look at how Liverpool might line up as they visit Manchester United on Sunday. Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
He’ll get a chance to collect his first successive shutout since, remarkably, last September, when Liverpool secured a win in the reverse fixture.
Right-Back: Jon Flanagan
Glen Johnson’s return to the squad after his injury layoff has relegated Aly Cissokho back to the bench, and even he has to accommodate at left-back, such is the form and confidence of Jon Flanagan.
Flanagan announced his return to the first team with a passionate and man-of-the-match performance in the first Merseyside derby of the season back in November. He could yet make a mark on Liverpool’s other big rival clash on Sunday.
Left-Back: Glen Johnson
Johnson’s return to fitness has finally given Brendan Rodgers an attacking outlet down the left flank, and with his uninspiring form earlier in the season seemingly behind him, he will look to make the most out of the coming weeks to earn himself a contract extension.
His duel against United’s Rafael da Silva will feature two of the Premier League’s erstwhile best full-backs—both have been eclipsed by Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta and Everton’s Seamus Coleman this season.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
For a while, it seemed as if Martin Skrtel’s days at Anfield were numbered. But an excellent performance in the reverse fixture in September has since been widely acknowledged as the starting point of his resurrection under Brendan Rodgers.
Having scored four goals this season, he will be hoping for another dominant display in the Reds back line, rather than a maddeningly mistake-prone performance on Sunday.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
Mamadou Sakho may be fit enough to make the squad this weekend, per the Mirror, but Rodgers will likely ease him back to match fitness, with the coming 10 games one of the most important run of fixtures for Liverpool in recent history.
Vice-captain Daniel Agger will reprise his starting role on the left side of the defence on Sunday, and will be keen to make an impression with Sakho breathing down his neck.
Holding Midfielder: Steven Gerrard
Besides Sakho, Lucas is another injury absentee who will reportedly make his return to the squad on Sunday, but Steven Gerrard’s performances at the base of the Liverpool midfield in recent weeks ensure that it is the captain who will start there on Sunday.
With eight goals and nine assists to his name this season, Gerrard is again running close to a double-double record. Don’t bet against him making it this time, unlike last year.
Central Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson has transformed from an outcast without a clear future in Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool to a certain starter, not just for the Reds but increasingly likely for England in the upcoming World Cup.
He has well and truly made the box-to-box central midfield role his own, and his energy, incessant pressing and inventive moments of brilliance will be important once again in a big clash.
Attacking Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Joe Allen has proved his worth with a series of enterprising displays in the midfield in recent weeks, particularly in the wins over Fulham and Southampton, but Liverpool will be looking to go at Manchester United from kickoff on Sunday.
And so Philippe Coutinho should come back into the side and add another source of creative play, direct running and goals to an already potent Reds attack.
Right Forward: Raheem Sterling
Brendan Rodgers’ young squad may well be the Premier League’s next Fergie’s Fledglings, and at the core of Rodgers’ impressive youth revolution at Anfield is Raheem Sterling.
He’s added tactical intelligence and decision-making to his already well-rounded game, and has become one of the most complete wingers in England. His man-of-the-match display in England’s friendly last week against Denmark will have done his World Cup chances no harm at all.
Left Forward: Luis Suarez
A goal and an assist against Southampton: Luis Suarez was never going to be away for too long.
Now with 24 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season, he will look to add to his tally against United, his original enemies. Another show-stealing performance like his first in this fixture back in March 2011 would live long in the memory of Liverpool fans.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
Even when Daniel Sturridge scored an early winner in the 1-0 victory over United, not many people would have expected him to go on and enjoy such a phenomenal season as he has.
Now Suarez’s closest challenger for the Golden Boot, Sturridge will relish the chance to come up against a creaking United back line.
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