Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Predicting Final Score and Top Stars to Watch

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Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Predicting Final Score and Top Stars to Watch
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Luis Suarez will be the difference if he is given time and space.

Manchester United host eternal rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford in a mouth watering Premier League Sunday lunchtime kick-off.

It's a game that has many sub-plots, not least a genuine power shift from the red half of Manchester to the red half of Merseyside.

Liverpool have been brilliant this season under Brendan Rodgers' forward-thinking tutelage, United quite the opposite under a struggling and often isolated David Moyes.

Sir Alex Ferguson famously said in his autobiography released in 2013, h/t Mark Ogden of the Telegraph, that Liverpool were "Eight players short of becoming genuine title contenders and a team incapable of reclaiming their position at the top of the perch they had been toppled from over 20 years ago."

Perhaps that statement, and the notion that Ferguson didn't believe that Steven Gerrard was a "top, top player," was all the motivation that Rodgers needed to fire up his staff.

And on fire his front two certainly have been.

The incomparable Luis Suarez has, along with Daniel Sturridge, scored 42 of Liverpool's 73 goals this season, per WhoScored.com. That's only four less than United have scored in total.

By contrast, United's celebrated front pairing of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have managed just 22 between them.

A win at Old Trafford could do wonders for either side. 

Whilst no one is talking of a title tilt at Anfield, three points keeps them nicely in the hunt and on the coat-tails of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Moyes' team is potentially in greater need of the win, given that his side are still five points from Tottenham in fifth and on the same points as Everton in seventh, but Roberto Martinez's men have a game in hand.

It's not unfair to suggest that the Red Devils could well find themselves out of European football completely next season if they don't pick up regular wins between now and the end of the season.

Let's take a look at who will could be the match-winners in this one.

 

Luis Suarez

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Can Luis Suarez continue his phenomenal strike rate at Old Trafford?

The Uruguayan presents the most obvious threat to United's back four. Twenty-four goals and 10 assists, per WhoScored, is even more remarkable when you consider he missed the first half dozen games of the season.

One of those was the 1-0 win at Anfield at the beginning of September when higher pass success, aerial success and possession, per WhoScored, still wasn't enough for David Moyes' team to claim victory.

A crumb of comfort for the home side will be that Liverpool have failed to claim victory at Old Trafford in their last six games there, but the addition of Suarez is likely to be the game-changer.

With 59 shots on target, per HereIsTheCity, Suarez is way out in front in terms of attempts at goal. His intelligence to get behind the lines and find the space to get a shot away is going to cause problems for Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra all afternoon.

With over 1,500 touches of the ball in his 23 appearances and a 74.8 percent pass completion success, Suarez is just as much of a threat in the midfield areas.

If he is allowed space to roam, he will be decisive.

 

Daniel Sturridge

Michael Regan/Getty Images
This has become a familiar sight for opposing teams this season.

Daniel Sturridge goes into this game in fine form having just been made Barclays Player of the Month for February, according to BBCSport.

Clearly, life on Merseyside suits him, telling Ian Chadband of the Telegraph:

I’m just humbled by everything that’s going on at the moment. It’s a great time in my life.

It’s been a whirlwind 15 months at Liverpool, amazing, I’ve enjoyed every moment. I feel blessed, pushing myself to the limits.

Yet I feel that there’s so much more to come.

With one eye on the upcoming World Cup with England, Sturridge's form continues to get better as we come into the business end of the season.

Ten goals in his last 10 games, per WhoScored, illustrate the threat he will pose to Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones.

If Sturridge needed a template for the game, he only need study the video from when Fernando Torres last visited Old Trafford for the Reds.

Suarez clearly has more than enough about him to pull Jones out of position and provide cover for Patrice Evra on the left, leaving Sturridge a clear run at the combative and physical but slow and lumbering Vidic.

 

Wayne Rooney

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
This is the perfect game for Wayne Rooney to justify his salary.

Much has been made of Wayne Rooney's reported new £300,000 per week contract. Mark Ogden of the Telegraph reported on how United had little option but to accede to Rooney's demands.

Yet, Rooney has been Moyes' talisman this season and if that's the going rate for top-end Premier League players these days, you would be hard pressed to argue that Rooney doesn't deserve every penny.

Eleven goals and 10 assists in his 21 appearances from a deeper midfield position, per WhoScored, is a fine return. Eight yellow cards detail that he's lost none of his combative spirit—something sorely lacking in his team-mates' performances.

His 80.5 percent pass completion rate from 1,603 touches of the ball are comfortably the best in the side and better even than Suarez.

Only four goals against this opposition, per transfermarkt, will need to be improved if Rooney wants to be the match-winner in this one.

 

Prediction: Manchester United 1-3 Liverpool

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