Hillsborough. Munich. Suarez. Evra. Chanting. Theres so much background to this fixture that its sometimes easy to forget that theres a massive Premier League clash taking part this weekend between the two most succesful clubs in English football history. It is of course Liverpool v United at Anfield this Sunday.
Match DetailsLiverpool v Manchester United 23rd September 2012 Kick off: 13:30 BST Anfield Live on SkySports1HD
Its the 5th game of the Premier League season for us and already we are taking our 2nd trip to Merseyside, and hoping to return with a better result than our last visit, a 1-0 opening day defeat to Everton. Since that disappointing day, United have hit back with 4 straight victories that have propelled them to 2nd in the league, as well as a Champions League victory against Galatasaray.
Following being dropped after the Fulham game, David de Gea regained his starting place this week in the Champions League game, and provided United’s 2nd consecutive clean sheet after we shipped 5 goals in our opening 3 games. We can expect Rio Ferdinand to return to the back 4 as he was rested in midweek. The main question in defence is who will get the nod at Left Back? Will Patrice Evra be thrown into the lions den again in a hope that the Luis Suarez row is behind them, or will we see young Alexander Büttner get the chance to follow up his impressive performance last weekend against Wigan, where he finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Further forward and I expect to see Tom Cleverley return to the starting line up alongside Michael Carrick in the middle. You would also expect to see Antonio Valencia operating out on the right flank, and either Nani or Danny Welbeck out on the left. With Wayne Rooney still out, you would expect to see Robin van Persie play just ahead of Shinji Kagawa. However, it wouldnt surprise me to see Wayne Rooney being included as a substitute for this game after 4 weeks out following that nasty gash on his right leg suffered in the Fulham game last month.
Last season, we took the trip to Anfield twice. We secured a 1-1 draw in the league, the game where Suarez was accused of racially abusing Evra. Later that season we suffered a 2-1 FA Cup defeat. However, Liverpool haven’t had the greatest of starts to the season. After draws against Manchester City and Sunderland, and defeats to West Brom and Arsenal, they have picked up just 2 points from their opening 4 games and currently sit 17th in the league. However in derby games like this, the form book must be thrown out of the window. The fans are more up for it and that often transfers to the pitch. The league table suggests United should win comfortably, but experience tells me it will be much closer than that and lets hope United can do the business and come home with the points.
I cant preview the match fully without drawing attention to off the field matters. Liverpool fans were last week cleared of any wrong doing in their part of the Hillsborough disaster where 96 fans tragically lost their lives. It has been reported that Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic will join together to release 96 baloons before kick off. United fans were harshly criticised last week after singing “Always the Victims, its never your fault” at the game against Wigan. It was assumed by the press that this was a dig at the Hillsborough disaster, a fact which United fans may know, is far from the truth. However I hope, for the dignity of our club, that those 2,800 United fans who are making the journey to Anfield, can try to avoid controversy on what will be an emotional day for Liverpool. Lets just keep reminding them why 19 is our favourite number. UNITED!!!
Predicted line up
Rafael Vidic Ferdinand Evra
Valencia Kagawa Nani
As I suggested above, this game could go either way, and this is reflected by the betting odds. Both Liverpool and United are available at 8/5 to grab the win whilst the draw is available at 12/5. The odds for the correct scores are also exactly the same for both sides, for me, a 2-1 victory for either side with odds of 17/2 seems good value. On the goal scoring front, its no surprise to see Robin van Persie the favourite for 1st goal scorer with odds of just 4/1. Surprisingly, Wayne Rooney 2nd favourite in the 1st goalscorer market at 11/2 with Luis Suarez of Liverpool available at 13/2.
(Odds correct as of 21st September from Skybet)