As Liverpool FC prepare to travel to Manchester United hoping to get an early psychological edge in their race for top 4, we look at three things they need to be wary off to come away with a result from Old Trafford.
1 – Threat from Manchester United wide men
With Wayne Rooney struggling to hit any sort of good form for United, Memphis Depay has been the player to take the mantle of being the biggest threat to the opponent’s goal. He has arguably been their best attacking player in the 6 competitive games United have played so far, the stand out one being the Club Brugge Champions League qualifying game where he scored two beautiful goals. On the other flank would be Juan Mata, the player who scored twice to help United beat Liverpool FC 2-0 at Anfield last season and his creative spark and the ability to drift inside the box can be very dangerous.
The duo is, undoubtedly, the biggest attacking threat for Manchester United and if the Reds do decide to play a three-man defence or worse, deploy Alberto Moreno in a back four, they need to be wary of the threat posed by them.
Clyne will also have his task cut out and will need help from Reds’ right winger to keep the double team of Depay and Shaw at bay. The two players have caused the maximum problems for all United’s opponents besides the creative Ander Herrera.
2 – Self destruction
Forget the threat from the United attackers, who have scored just thrice in four Premier League games, the bigger threat to Simon Mignolet’s goal is the defence imploding.
When a team lines up with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno as three off the four defenders, the odds for mistakes are very high as it has proven time and time again at Liverpool.
The most recent example, and this without Moreno, was when West Ham decimated the Reds at Anfield in a 3-0 win. Every goal had a basic defensive error from either Martin Skrtel or Dejan Lovren.
Last season at Anfield, it was Alberto Moreno who decided to step up to implode, defending poorly against Juan Mata.
Time and time again, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool FC have been led down by individual defensive errors, mostly by the three players mentioned above. Liverpool aren’t in the best of attacking touch right now, having score just twice in four games. The last thing they need is their defence imploding.
3 – Being overawed by Old Trafford
Some of the players in the Reds’ lineup will be playing in a game of this magnitude for the first time in their career (Clyne, Gomez, Firmino, Benteke, Ibe)
Old Trafford can be an intimidating place to come to for any opponent. And if you are a young Liverpool FC player, it can be even more intimidating. On top of it, Liverpool will be missing the experience of captain Jordan Henderson and their best player Philippe Coutinho. The situation becomes even more daunting with additional responsibility and pressure.
With several young players expected to feature in the Liverpool’s XI, it is time for the senior players like Martin Skrtel, Lucas Leiva, and James Milner to calm the nerves in the dressing room and help the players manage the pressure that comes with it.
Of course, manager Brendan Rodgers and his staff will have to play their role too and ensure that players are in the right mental condition to play United at their home.
If Liverpool FC keep these three things in mind and negotiate their way across them, they stand a very good chance to do well in tomorrow’s game.