Old Trafford, Manchester
25th September, 19:45 BST
Manchester United host arch rival Liverpool at Old Trafford in the League Cup fixture tonight. This is already the second meeting between these two sides this season, after Liverpool defeat United at Anfield earlier this month.
It has been fairly even between these two sides in recent times. United have won three, while Liverpool have won two of their last five meetings. But the last time these two sides met in a knock-out competition was back in 2012 in the FA Cup. Liverpool walked away 2-1 winners in that fixture with Dirk Kuyt scoring a memorable late winner.
But United have had the better of Liverpool at Old Trafford historically. In fact the reigning Premier League champions have won all of the last five meetings between these two sides in this ground.
United have made slow start to their Premier League campaign under new manager David Moyes. They are currently 8th in the Premier League table, having won just two of their first five matches. But they have had a tough fixture list in the opening rounds of league games, facing the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. United are coming into this game on the back of humiliating 4-1 defeat against local rivals Manchester City.
That loss has posed a lot of questions on David Moyes’ side and their ability to retain the Premier League title this season. Questions have been raised about the tactical acumen of the former Everton manager and his team selection – although they have also been affected by injuries to some of their ley performers. David Moyes and United will have a point to prove in this game against Liverpool tonight.
Robin van Persie, their talisman last season, is the latest inclusion their injury list which already had the likes of Jones, Rafael and Darren Fletcher. Although the Dutchman’s injury is not serious, he will definitely be out of this fixture. David Moyes might look to give opportunities to some non-regulars in this match.
Rooney will start upfront, in his favoured role, with Shinji Kagawa expected to start behind him in the role of the playmaker. The Japanese international’s absence from the side has been questioned a lot and this game will provide a big am opportunity for the 24-year-old to prove a point to his manager. Two exciting young talents, Januzaj and Zaha, are expected to provide the width, while Anderson and Cleverley are paired in the pivot. The partnership of these two players might be cause for concern for United tonight as they will be up against a very experienced Liverpool midfield.
Evans is expected to partner Ferdinand in the center of defence, while Fabio and Smalling take up the role of the full backs. There is also a chance of Alexander Buttner making a start as the left back. Ben Amos is expected feature in the goal in place of David De Gea.
David Moyes will expect his side to put in a better shift than what they did against City in their last game. The midfield will have to work harder and show more steel and determination. This is an excellent opportunity for a lot of players to stake their claim in the starting eleven.
Expected Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Amos (GK); Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Fabio; Cleverley, Anderson; Zaha, Kagawa, Januzaj; Rooney
Liverpool made a fantastic start to their league campaign, winning their first three games and remaining at the top of the table for some time. But things have gone according to plans in their last two league matches with a 2-2 draw against Swansea and a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton at home. Brendan Rodgers made some questionable team selection in their last game, as he went in with four center backs in defence. Kolo Toure was played as the right back, while Sakho was played on the left. This move back fired as neither of them were able to provide the width down the flanks in attack and looked uncomfortable in possession when pressed by the Southampton players. Liverpool also seemed a bit once dimensional in attack and the absence of Coutinho proved to be a big factor as well. Moreover, it also showcased how dependent they had become on Sturridge to provide the goals.
Rodgers will be without Coutinho, Cissokho, Coates and Johnson in this game due to injuries. There are also doubts about the fitness of Daniel Agger, but the big news is the Luis Suarez is once again available after serving out his 10-match ban. The Liverpool manager did enlighten on whether the Uruguayan international will start in this game, but he is likely to play a part in it.
“It has been a really difficult time for him not playing games. How he has prepared himself over the last number of weeks has been fantastic.
“He’s really champing at the bit to help the team. Everyone knows the depth of his quality and his attitude. Once he gets back on the field again he will show what he has shown since he’s been here.” – The Liverpool boss said.
Rodgers is expected to make four changes to the side that was fielded against Manchester City. Martin Kelly is expected to replace Toure as the right-back, with Skrtel and Sakho playing in the center of defence. Enrique will start as the left back in this match after coming on as a substitute in the last game.
Bradley Jones is expected to replace Mignolet in the goal, while Lucas and Gerrard retain their place in front of the defence. Moses will play on the left wing, while Henderson will shift to a central role in this match. Luis Suarez is expected to start on the right, with Sturridge leading the line upfront. Rodgers will hope that Suarez can start from where he left off last season and provide the spark they lack in their last match.
Expected Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Jones (GK); Kelly, Skrtel, Sakho, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas; Suarez, Henderson, Moses; Sturridge
Players to watch out for: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United); Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Liverpool
Blast from the past