This Saturday at 12.45, the two biggest teams in English football lock horns once again just two weeks after Liverpool’s 2-1 victory at Anfield. The occasion is in doubt of being overshadowed by the Suarez/Evra race row, as the two play against each other for the first time since the alleged on goings took place. However I wish to talk about matters on the field and the game itself, which promises to be a fascinating contest with both teams needing a win for differing reasons.
Manchester United enter the game on the back of a morale boosting comeback from 3-0 down at Stamford Bridge to claim an unlikely point, which could be vital come the end of the season. However questions must be asked how and why they found themselves 3-0 down to an underperforming Chelsea team in the first place?. With captain Nemanja Vidic sidelined for the season, and Phil Jones also out injured it has promoted the weak link Jonny Evans to play alongside Rio Ferdinand, which is a big problem for Manchester United. Coupled with goalkeeper David De Gea’s shaky start to Premier League life the defence lies the biggest problem at this time for the current champions.
The promising signs for Man United are the emergence of Danny Welbeck who has had a fine season so far and looks a real threat at this level making him seem a sure bet to win a place in England’s Euro 2012 squad. The never say die attitude instilled by manager Sir Alex, means a game is never lost until the final whistle and the team has goal scorers all over the pitch, the services of Javier Hernandez whether from the start of the bench is always a danger. United sit 2 points behind their Manchester rivals at the Etihad stadium, so a win is paramount for their title challenge and to not lose more ground in the title race.
For Liverpool, a draw on Monday night at home to Spurs hardly done much to help their cause in the race for 4th place, so they head to Old Trafford desperate for a win to keep them in the hunt for a Champions League spot. The heralded return of Luis Suarez will be a massive boost for Liverpool, he is in line to start alongside the improving Andy Carroll upfront for the reds. Goals, or lack of them has been the real problem for Liverpool so far this season, and the lowest chance conversion rate in the league symbolises this. Suarez and Carroll only have 7 goals between them in the Premier League, and it is Craig Bellamy who has hit form and is Liverpool’s top scorer. However with captain Steven Gerrard gaining in match fitness also, this quartet of players could now see a run of games together and finally start producing the goods and firepower needed.
The positive for Liverpool has been their excellent defence. Jose Enrique has been one of the signings of the season, and is vastly underrated by opposing fans, and the partnership between Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel has been that good, stalwart Jamie Carragher is unable to win a place back. Liverpool will head to Manchester as the underdogs but despite the poor result away to Bolton, they have enjoyed their travels so far this season winning at Stamford Bridge and The Emirates. Games between the two sides are usually very tight and separated by the odd goal and I am backing it to be the same story again this Saturday. Whilst a draw will benefit neither team, I expect both teams to be leaving the field with a point each.
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