The biggest rivalry in the English Premier League between the two most successful clubs in England is upon us.
Liverpool are off to their worst start to a season in over a century while Manchester United have slowly found their feet and are coming off a morale boosting win over Wigan. However, it is well known that the form book holds little significance when these two sides meet.
Brendan Rodgers will be looking to kick start Liverpool’s season after a disappointing start to life at Anfield having picked up just one point from his opening four games. The Reds opened with a 3-0 loss at West Brom and were then held by champions Manchester City 2-2 at Anfield the following week before being beaten 2-0 at home by Arsenal. They drew 1-1 at Sunderland last weekend, so the Merseysiders will be keen to get their first three points when they meet the Red Devils. Liverpool’s hated nemesis, the woodwork, continued to be a thorn in their side against Sunderland. Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard hit the bar and post respectively, and the continued problem of failing to turn possession into goals cost them what should have been a routine three points based on the balance of play. Sterling’s performance, meanwhile, was again the highlight of the game. He was a constant threat in the second-half, and created the Liverpool equaliser when he skilfully passed Danny Rose and crossed the ball towards Suarez, who finished at the second attempt. Liverpool will come out determined as emotions have been running high at the club since the latest Hillsborough findings reported negatively on the Police. 96 people lost their lives at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest 23 years ago in the Hillsborough disaster.
On the flip side, Old Trafford was abuzz as Paul Scholes netted on his 700th Manchester United appearance as the Red Devils cruised past Wigan 4-0 last weekend. The hosts were gifted a soft penalty within the first five minutes when Ali Al-Habsi was penalised for bringing down Danny Welbeck, but justice was done as Al-Habsi saved Javier Hernandez’s spot-kick – the closest United came in a subdued first half. Having probably received a half-time tongue-lashing from Sir Alex Ferguson, United took the lead early in the second period through Scholes, before Hernandez atoned for his earlier penalty miss with a trademark poacher’s finish. Alexander Buttner, making his United debut at left-back after signing from Vitesse, announced himself to the home crowd with a superb solo strike – beating four men before netting – to put the game beyond Wigan. And another debutant, former Crewe youngster Nick Powell, thumped home to round off the scoring. The Red Devils started the season with a loss at Everton but have since progressed steadily recording 3-2 wins over Fulham and Southampton respectively before their victory against the Latics which put them second on the table behind Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson could afford to leave Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa on the bench against Wigan but the duo should return to the starting line-up to add some magic to their attack, while Wayne Rooney remains sidelined with injury.
Manchester United haven’t won at Anfield in the last five attempts, with Liverpool winning four of those fixtures and drawing the most recent one. United might be second on the log but their recent performances will need to be raised if they are to get a win here. Though Liverpool’s shouldn’t give United many problems going forward, their defence will come out determined and should stifle their rivals’ attack. The draw is tipped.