United will be looking to leap frog Liverpool by moving onto 7 points with a win over their bitter rivals tomorrow. After completing a double over them last season, including a 2-1 win at Old Trafford with goals from RVP and Nemanja Vidic, United will be confident in taking on a team who had to play extra time midweek and suffered injuries to key players.
United’s last game was a drab 0-0 draw when Chelsea came to Old Trafford and, as Jose Mourinho himself famously once said, “parked the bus”. It was a tight game with neither team giving much away. I’m sure this game will be a different affair all together with the history between the teams and the hostile atmosphere which we always see at Anfield. The players know how much the occasion means to the fans and they usually deliver with an entertaining and passionate game of football.
Last season United recorded a 2-1 win at Anfield. After going 1-0 down to a Steven Gerrard goal, shortly after half-time Rafael took it upon himself to score an incredible equaliser. RVP wrapped up the points with a 81st minute penalty. I would have expected tomorrows game to be quite tight like last seasons game, until Tuesday night. Liverpool required extra time to beat Notts County and suffered injuries to Joe Allen and Kolo Toure, the latter has been at the heart of Liverpool’s defense so far this season. With Coates and Skrtel already unavailable they are likely to field a makeshift CB partnership that RVP, Rooney and Welbeck will dismantle.
United took a strong Swansea side to the cleaners on the opening day with some clinical finishing by our strikers. If they have their shooting boots on tomorrow i expect a comfortable win. All the talk running up to the game is how Liverpool are a much stronger outfit this season and will be challenging for the top four. I just don’t see it, without Sturridge’s goals at the end of last season and this season they would be distinctly average. Even with him they are wasteful, only scoring 2 goals this season from 31 shots and 12 on target in 2 games. With Vidic and Rio at the back we will nullify their chances further.
Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho and an ageing Steven Gerrard are our main threats. They will have heavy legs from Tuesday so i hope we start the game with a high tempo and possession to make them chase the ball. I hope Shinji Kagawa starts the match as his creativity will make the chances for our front 3. The Cleverley and Carrick partnership is much more solid and industrious, chasing down balls and breaking up the play. However, we wont need this approach against Liverpool as they are likely to line up with less attacking midfielders than Chelsea’s four last time around!
These affairs usually finish with one team taking the points by a slim margin. Both teams have scored in 9 out of the last 10 matches together. I don’t think this will change due to the nature of the game, despite my previous thoughts about injuries and our stronger team. This is also compounded by the fact Andre Marriner is set to referee the game, in his last 7 games he has given 31 yellow cards and 4 red cards. United v Liverpool has a history of red cards and ill discipline. I sincerely hope the referee is sensible and keeps his cards in his pocket for as long as possible, otherwise he could ruin a great match.
I have two match predictions, one based on logic, Liverpools injuries and their long match in mid-week. 3-0 United.
However, both teams almost always score in these games and cards always appear. Therefore, intuition tells me its likely to be a run of the mill Derby with controversial decisions, sending offs, penalty appeals and the like. Therefore a 2-1 win for either side is more likely. I wouldn’t be happy at a point with Anfield, i genuinely believe we should be beating teams of their caliber to retain our title.
I hope logic wins over intuition.