LIVERPOOL

v

MANCHESTER UNITED

Anfield,A�Liverpool

October 15, 2011
11:45 hours GMT

***

The most anticipated fixture of the league season is upon us as the two colossal names of the English game come head to head. Blood, sweat, pride, and much more will be on line as giants collide in the most emotionally charged duel in contemporary British football. No quarters will be given, none will be asked. Legends are born and heroes rise in this titanic battle as the hope of every Scouse and Mancunian rests on the shoulders of the men who take the field.

Ita��s more than a game for sure, but at the end of the day football must take precedence over emotions however unrealistic that may sound. Liverpool, on their home turf, will be a tough nut to crack even for the Champions and league leaders United as three league defeats in a row at Anfield would testify. Red Devils, though can take heart from an unbeaten start to the season while the Reds from Merseyside have already tasted defeat twice, albeit away from Anfield. Kenny Dalglish a�� the Kop Idol and a legend in these shores has galvanized the club and brought new life amongst the supporters after a dismal run under Roy Hodgson and final days of Rafa Benitez. Now under the new regime, therea��s genuine hope and excitement in Liverpoola��s red half as the club seems to have found a new lease of life.

Ferguson and United on the other hand continue the quest for glory on all fronts as the legendary Scot has filled the roots of the club with an inexhaustible desire and hunger for success. Nearing his 25thA�year as the leader of the red army, Fergusona��s thirst remains unquenched; on the contrary it seems to have shot up with every passing day. An old enemy awaits Man United, armed with renewed vigor, reinvigorated with new faces and ready to pounce, yet again the master must respond to the challenge at hand. A fascinating encounter is in store for football fans around the globe as grit, determination and mental fortitude all come into play in the battle of the Reds.

Team News and Tactical Brief

LIVERPOOL

Kenny Dalglish faces a couple of tricky decisions ahead of the visit of United. Ironically, it is brought about by the return to fitness of players. Except for an injury to Martin Kelly – sustained in an England U21 international – the manager has no other absentees. And yet, with Man United’s Ashley Young bearing down on any Liverpool right-back, this could be an injury that plays a major role in deciding the outcome of the game.

If Glenn Johnson is chosen to start, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel are expected to be the central defensive pairing – since Dalglish cannot afford to give a return to both Daniel Agger and Johnson in such a fixture. Although one suspects that Dalglish will go with Johnson, his other option would be to play Carragher as right-back and the Skrtel-Agger pairing in the centre. Left back Jose Enrique will be a man to watch out for, for Liverpool, as his battle with Nani is going to be crucial.

Steven Gerrard is expected to replace Charlie Adam in the middle and partner Lucas Leiva, while a shaky right-back position guarantees a start to Dirk Kuyt on the right. Stewart Downing takes up the left wing role, with occasional switching of positions withA�Luis SuarezA�- a variation that has worked wonders at Anfield thus far. And finally, Andy Carroll will partner Suarez in the high octane fixture; Carroll expected to target Patrice Evra as United’s weakness in the air.

Probable Starting Line-up:A�(4-4-2) Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Kuyt, Lucas, Gerrard, Downing; Suarez, Carroll

football formations

MANCHESTER UNITED

Sir Alex would have been very happy with the time of the international break as it has eased quite a few injury worries. The best news for the manager is that captain Nemanja Vidic is fit again and is almost certain to start after playing for Serbia in midweek. The skipper has been out since the opening day of the season and his return will provide a welcome boost to, what has been, a shaky United defense so far. Also fit is youngster Tom Cleverley, who has been missing due to a ligament injury. However, Cleverley might not yet be handed a start as he has not played any competitive game for almost a month. Chris Smalling might also be fit for the game but the it comes too soon for the da Silva brothers who are still struggling with injuries.

With the captain set to return, United will line up its best central defensive partnership of Vidic and Ferdinand for the first time since the opening game of the season. Alongside them will be Patrice Evra and Phil Jones, who has impressed one and all this season but his biggest test might come at Anfield as he faces a daunting opponent in Luis Suarez. David De Gea is expected to return in goal after Lindegaard got the opportunity against Norwich in the last game.

It will be interesting to see the midfield set-up deployed by Sir Alex as Liverpool has dominated that area of the pitch in the last three games at Anfield which has pretty much decided the game in favour of the Merseysiders. Nani and Young are almost certain to start on the wings, but the central midfield places are up for grabs with Anderson, Carrick, Giggs and Fletcher all available in addition to Cleverley who returns from injury. In the end, Fergie might opt for Anderson and Carrick with the Englishman protecting the back four and the Brazilian involved as the play-maker.

Wayne Rooney will be starting the game but he must be ready to face taunts from the Anfield faithful with his father involved in a betting scam but more so for his yet another act of foolishness which got him sent off in the England game. Danny Welbeck, who has started the season very brightly, is expected to partner Rooney in attack with Chicharito having to make a long trip back from Mexico after being involved in the international matches.

Probable Starting Line-up:A�(4-4-1-1)A�De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Young; Rooney; Welbeck

Key Facts

  1. Liverpool have won the last three games against United at Anfield and four of the last six.
  2. United have not lost four league games in a row at any ground in the Premier League history.
  3. There have been four penalties awarded in the last five meetings between these two sides.

TheHardTacklea��s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

 

Skipper ready to return

Captain fantastic is ready to make his first start for the club since returning from injury and he could not have chosen a bigger game than this. All eyes will be on Gerrard who will be keener than ever to impress and show that he is still a force to reckon with and if he performs any where near to what he is capable of, United will be in for a hard time.

TheHardTacklea��s PREDICTION

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester United

There will be goals in this game with both defences struggling at the start of the season. Liverpool will dominate possession and take the game to United, but Sir Alex’s men will have enough fire in their belly to come out with a draw.

TheHardTacklea��s BLAST FROM THE PASTA�A�

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3 Responses to “Liverpool v Manchester United – Preview: Daunting Anfield Awaits Rampant Red Devils”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Dogzenkatz says:

    Didn’t think those were the 2 potentially best lineups for each team. Indeed United should opt for a 4-4-1-1, but with Lindegaard in goal, Vidic and Jones in front of him, with Evra and Smalling as the fullbacks. Ferdinand just isn’t as nimble or fit as he once was and if Liverpool plays its best forwards, they will need to be marked 1-on-1 with really quick defenders, meaning Evra is only there to provide organisation through experience and hope he isn’t taken on too much.

    Midfield wise, United can’t do any better than pairing Anderson with Cleverley. If there is anyone Liverpool should fear, it’s Cleverley. Without Cleverley, the United attack loses cohesion and doesn’t coordinate so well. Fletcher and Carrick just aren’t of enough class to trouble a side that boasts Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Adam and Spearing to choose from. Your 4 attackers are spot on for United, but they need Cleverley.

    As for Liverpool, that is neither the ideal side, nor the side Dalglish will put against United. Kenny is likely to keep the faith with at least Adam or Henderson, if not both. Gerrard is likely to start on the bench. Ideally, Spearing should be partnering Lucas in front of the back 4. Why 2 holding mids? The workrates of Lucas and Spearing are phenomenal, and even if Cleverley does play, he will find spaces very limited. Secondly, Lucas and Spearing pair very well in a manner not replicated with Adam or Henderson, despite the latter 2 being technically superior. We may no longer have Masch and Alonso, but I’m sure you guys have to acknowledge we still have the better central midfield.

    Our forwards who will give you the most problems would be Suarez, Kuyt and Bellamy, but I believe you guys can count your lucky stars Bellamy would be starting on the bench like Gerrard. Kuyt may not be very fast, but no longer is Evra, so it’s pretty even on that corner. However, if it’s Downing against Evra with Bellamy on the left wing, you guys should once again be grateful Rooney defends well and will actually track back to do so. Suarez vs, Jones will be an interesting battle. Jones is as brilliant a defender as Suarez as a striker. Suarez has the tricks, Jones has the reflexes.

    As to the issue of Nani, indeed most fans will pick that as one of the keys to the game. Nani’s form is incredible and he has definitely scored some spectacular goals where Enrique has also proven to be Liverpool’s buy of the summer. However, I can say we should just take for granted that Nani is likely to get a goal. Nonetheless, we all know how much of a team player Nani is too, so Enrique’s task isn’t particularly hard. He only needs to prevent Nani from getting clear shots.

    Another point you might like to note is throughout the league season thus far, United has always taken the shape of the opposing team, where they keep slightly more compact than the opponent and play within the natural spaces created by those formations. They will have no such opportunity against Liverpool who now play a very unpredictably and shapeless game. One could say Liverpool isn’t properly drilled and plays a very risky game based on players’ forms, but United’s current style, designed to win despite the absence of form, may actually suffer against such a system. Of course, the opposite is true and Arsenal were terribly thumped, but their players do not have the same confidence and will to win that both ours have. We’ve only had a brief blip at Spurs with Modric back where neither he, Parker nor Adebayor played at Old Trafford. You guys may have had the better result at Stoke, but we penned them into their 18 yard box for almost the entire 2nd half.

    Anyways, my point is, like a derby, hence the fixture’s nickname, this game will be predominantly down to form. It is likely to be won by 2 goals by the team with better form on the day. Given our best players are either fresh back from injuries or international duty, it would provide for a scrappier game, but a draw is unacceptable and unlikely. This is a must win game.

    YNWA

  2. Anurag says:

    Liverpool’s chances depend on whether Dalglish Chooses to play Adam or Gerrard in the Centre.

    IMO Gerrard should start at the back with Lucas while Suarez should partner with Kuyt. On either flank, KK can paly Downing and Maxi/Bellamy.

    That should allow Liverpool to dominate possession which would be the key to the match.

  3. Dogzenkatz says:

    As it turned out, neither team had better form and so it did turn out to be a scrappy affair, especially in the first half. The second half showed everyone knew it was a must win game. The intensity and tempo till the final whistle was amazing.