Sunday, 1st September 2013, 12:30 GMT
The first BIG game of the season for Liverpool FC where David Moyes will experience the feeling of representing their greatest English rivals Manchester United, as opposed to the last 11 years when he used to face them while representing their greatest local rivals Everton FC.
Such familiar faces, yet such a different setting. Brendan Rodgers is still looking to find his managerial footing in the football, with his
second season as Liverpool FC manager. While he has done fairly well till now, the verdict is still out on whether he is “The Chosen One” Liverpool fans are waiting for: the One who will take them back to being title contenders after more than two decades spent without topping the English League. All was forgiven last season, as tales of a master project being rolled-out under Rodgers’ guidance were widely propagated; this season he will be expected to put up a authentic fight for the fourth place spot, else the fans may start turning on him. David Moyes is probably still getting used to being in a completely new environment. His move from ‘ecstatic-to-finish-6th’ Everton to ‘how-dare-we-not-win-every-year’ Manchester United is one which comes with a lot of pressure. Only time will tell if he can perform in a situation where a singular loss will kick-start murmurs of doubt amongst fans.
It will also be interesting to see how much of the match’s outcome is affected by the two clubs’ repeated failings in transfer market.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The transfer window seems to have come full circle for Brendan Rodgers. Even after securing a move for Kolo Toure, rumors linking numerous central defenders have followed the club throughout the window. Two players to be linked very early on, Sporting Lisbon’s Tiago Ilori and PSG’s Mamadou Sakho, are still just that: targets. With both Kolo Toure and loan signing Aly Cissokho picking up injuries in the Capital One Cup tie against Notts County, Sebastian Coates already being declared out for most of the season, and Andre Wisdom being a tad too young and inexperienced for such a big tie, the Liverpool manager must be regretting not wrapping up a deal for any of his central defensive targets. While there still may be time for him to bring in a center-half before the match, it’s highly unlikely that he will slot a new player straight into the starting line-up against Man United. Rock-solid defences are usually built around a central defensive pairing who share a great chemistry (think of the Carragher-Hyypia duo, for example). So the best option is to recall Martin Skrtel into the team, to once again pair up with Daniel Agger. If the two can work together as well as they used to (pretty much from his signing by Rafa Benitez till before Rodgers came to the helm), Rodgers may yet choose to give the big Slovakian another shot at the first team. Unfortunately, the pairing will be facing off against the consistently lethal Robin van Persie and Wayne ‘I-have-a-point-to-prove’ Rooney. Not a happy prospect for any defence.
In attack is where Liverpool’s other transfer failing is visible for all to see. Rodgers’ best creative outlet, Philippe Coutinho, will again be forced to play out of position (from the Central Attacking role where he excels) in the Left Attacking Midfielder position in Rodgers’ 4-2-3-1 formation. Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard will hold the center of the field, primarily ensuring defensive cover for the weakened defence.
Probable Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: Mignolet(GK); Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas; Henderson, Aspas, Coutinho; Sturridge
The Wayne Rooney plot-line has distracted supporters and detractors alike from the real issue that has been plaguing the English giants for a few seasons running: a weak Central Midfield. Aside from the excellent Michael Carrick, Manchester only have the somewhat injury prone Tom Cleverley. Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones have had to deputise in the role in the past, though neither’s natural talents are in tune with the needs of this position. Moyes’ failure to land Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Marouane Fellaini has been a cause of worry for the supporters. The window still isn’t shut and new faces, like Daniele De Rossi and Ander Herrera, may yet come in. As it stands, the expected line-up should be the same as what it was against Chelsea FC last week.
Shifting attention from midfield to attack, it’s clear that this is where Man United’s real strength lies. If Moyes can get Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney to play at their peak and gel well with each other, they can overshadow any shortcomings in the team simply by scoring a wagon load of goals. The rest of the team just have to follow a pass to Wayne-Persie strategy (not to imply that this is what the team’s tactics are all about). Against an injury ravaged Liverpool defence, they may just have a high scoring outing.
Probable Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: De Gea(GK); Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney, Welbeck; van Persie
- In his 12 visits to Anfield as manager, David Moyes has never won a single match.
- In the goal-less Manchester United versus Chelsea FC match last week, Wayne Rooney was the the biggest goal-threat (from either side) with the highest number of shots (4) and shots (3) on target recorded.
- In the 6 Premier League matches since the start of Luis Suarez’s 10-match suspension, Liverpool have won 5, and drawn 1.
Player To Watch Out For
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
The man in the spotlight. He’s had a tumultuous few months; being chased by Jose Mourinho, being alternately praised and mocked by David Moyes, while having the fans of both United and Chelsea singing to keep him at/bring him to their club. In the first two games for United, he has been the stand-out performer, earning praise from all quarters. Expect his to have a major say in what goes on in this match between two old rivals.
Liverpool FC 1-1 Manchester United
David Moyes has the firepower to exploit Liverpool’s weakened defence, but Liverpool’s performances have been excellent so far this season. Against Chelsea, Moyes has shown that he may not be very gung-ho in matches where he knows a loss will direct a fair amount of criticism from supporters; he seemed fairly satisfied to let the match continue on its ambling goalless route, with no attempts to shift tactics (the subs were like for like replacements for the starting wingers). Rodgers, in the absence of a new attacking outlet, will find it tough to force upon the opposition defence too often.
A 1-1 result, simply because the Sturridge and RvP led attacks are too good for the defenders they’ll be facing off against.
Blast From The Past