Liverpool FC travel to Manchester to face third placed Manchester United.
The Reds are currently struggling in the league and lie in the ninth place. The last time Liverpool travelled to Manchester, it seemed like Manchester United were all set to be knocked off their perch. An emphatic 3-0 victory for Brendan Rodgers saw Steven Gerrard scoring from the spot twice, and Luis Suarez scoring a late goal to seal the game for the Reds. Liverpool had many more chances in the game, and Gerrard missed a third penalty which kept the score more respectable than it could have from United’s perspective.
Things have changed since. After a bleak start to the league, Manchester United have begun to find their feet and are looking at their sixth successive win against arch rivals Liverpool. Even though performances haven’t been particularly convincing in some of the games, notably against Arsenal and Southampton, the important thing for van Gaal is that his players have scraped through and taken fifteen out of fifteen points from the five previous fixtures.
Brendan Rodgers’ is undergoing a difficult spell and his side come into this game after the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League by FC Basel. This game saw the manager being criticized from all quarters as Rodgers’ team-selection was quite baffling in a must-win game for the side.
For this match, Rodgers said that Mario Balotelli might return to the thick of things. The Italian has missed a chunk of games after being sidelined for about a month now. The manager said that Balotelli has returned to training, but only a late test would determine if he is fit to face the Red Devils.
“We’ve still got a bit of time, so we’ll see what his fitness is like,” said Rodgers
“He’s been out for a little while now, but in the last couple of days he’s looked good in training. We’ll give him every chance to see if he can come into the squad.”
A lot of criticism that was directed at Rodgers was down to the fact that both Coutinho and Lallana were left on the bench. It was revealed earlier this week that the player had sustained broken ribs in the recent 3-1 victory away to Leicester City and that was the reason why he was left on the bench against Basel, despite playing for 60 minutes through the injury against Sunderland. However, Rodgers insisted the former Saints captian is fit to play against United.
“He took a nasty injury in the game against Leicester and I didn’t mention it because I wanted to protect the player and make sure he wasn’t targeted in games.
“He looks fully up to speed. He’s obviously had some work done since he’s been here and watching him in training, he’s been fine.
“He’s been available, but not fully fit. He looks much, much better now.”
Liverpool’s ‘Player of the Month’ for November Kolo Toure is also ready to face United after missing midweek against FC Basel due to a groin strain.
Probable Line-Up: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Toure, Moreno; Lucas, Allen; Sterling, Gerrard, Coutinho; Lambert