Liverpool vs. Manchester United preview: Line up & prediction

Robin van Persie scores against Liverpool last season
Robin van Persie scores against Liverpool in the 2-1 victory last season

Manchester United take on Liverpool at Anfield in the 188th clash between the two sides. Liverpool are currently second having won both of their opening two fixtures 1-0. In the last five trips to Liverpool, United have only won a single match (last season’s 2-1 victory when Rafael and Robin van Persie gave United victory), whilst losing three and drawing the other fixture. Liverpool are without their top scorer from last season Luis Suarez, who is still suspended, and United fans will expect Wayne Rooney to lineup behind Robin van Perise.

We welcome comments from both sets of fans.

A view from the opposition

We have a great view from the opposition with Adam Loveday who, along with his dad, is a season ticket holder who attended the last two European Cuo finals contested by Liverpool. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AdamLoveday05.

1) Liverpool have got off to a flyer thus far, who has stood out in the opening two fixtures?
I think there have been a couple of standout performers, firstly Kolo Toure, who looks to have been a real shrewd signing by Brendan Rodgers. He has been an absolute giant in the heart of the defence and instrumental in our two clean sheets thus far in the league. I think that with his recent groin injury (picked up against Nott’s County in the week) he will be a real miss against United. The second would have to be Daniel Sturridge, since the backend of last season he has been on fire and really thriving in the role given to him by Rodgers. His four goals in three games so far this season has shown he has continued that form, which isn’t bad for a player who had hardly taken part in pre-season.

2) What did you make of the whole Luis Suarez transfer situation?
To be honest its disappointing that again we have another saga on-going that doesn’t look like it will go away, there has been so much said and written about Suarez and his summer-long attempts to force a move away from Anfield that it has been painful to follow. I do however think Rodgers has handled the whole thing really well, and so too have the owners (to date) by stating he would not be sold, as we wouldn’t have time to find a replacement, I just hope we don’t have another Torres/Carroll last minute scenario again where everyone loses out! I think for Liverpool to reach the top four this year it’s critical we keep him and with it being a World Cup year I would also expect him to knuckle down, yet after that tournament I would suspect he will get his move away.

3) Still on Suarez, do you think he did indeed cost Dalglish his job and how do you think Rodgers has handled him?
I don’t think it was simply Suarez who cost Dalglish his job, however obviously it was a contributing factor. I think if we had finished 4th and not 8th that year he would of lasted longer in the job. As I mentioned earlier, I think Rodgers has done a really good job in handling him, he has been careful in taking a stance, and saying the right things, but always leaving the door open so not to cut ties with Suarez. Assuming he stays it looks like his first game back will actually be against you boys in the League Cup at Old Trafford which could make for an interesting game back!

4) Coutinho looks an excellent signing from Inter. How do you think he will get on this season?
I think he will really push on, last year he had the advantage of being a relatively unknown quantity, this time round teams will be expecting a little more from him, but I do think he will be able to step up and continue to deliver. His creativity has really added that spark that was missing at the start of last year and he quickly developed a relationship with Daniel Sturridge, which has continued in to this one, further highlighted in the goal we scored against Villa last week.

5) David Moyes returns to Liverpool for the first time as United manager. What did you make of the appointment?
I must admit it took me by surprise, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The owners have clearly appointed someone for the long term, and I think Moyes will grow into the role. It is obviously one hell of a jump in expectation levels and resources, but with Sir Alex only a phone call away I suspect he will do well for you in the years to come. It does however make the next couple of years a lot more interesting at the top of the league with all the management changes, and I do expect United to finish 3rd this year given the lack of major signings. I would be surprised if United are not able to make at least one marquee singing to signal Moyes’s arrival (Fellaini & Baines would be excellent if it can happen), but with only a couple of days left its looking increasingly unlikely.

6) Raheem Sterling burst onto the scene last year, do you think he will push on even more this campaign?
I think he may struggle for as much game time this season to be honest, at the start of last year our squad was threadbare and he excelled for the first half of the season, obviously with injury and fatigue he faded towards the end. But I am sure he will continue to grow and develop this year, I’m just not sure he will have the same impact as last, with the reduced game time I’m expecting him to have. I think Rodgers will play him in all the cup matches, and hopefully he will continue to play a part through the year and push on. Another player to watch out for in the similar mould to Sterling, is a young lad called Jordan Ibe, the youngster is fearless, whilst he will have little game time, he should come through the ranks to play a part this season.

7) Where will Liverpool finish this season?
Unfortunately I think we will finish just short of the target and come 5th. I do however expect good performances in the cup competitions. Dalglish took them very seriously 2 years ago and we made both domestic cup finals, Brendan in his first year has openly admitted to not making the cups as much of a priority and I expect that to change this year, that can be seen by the line-up picked for the Nott’s County game Tuesday. I think 5th and a cup win would be deemed good progress and a route back into Europe to help build up those coefficient points for when we are finally back in the champions league.

8) How will Liverpool line up on Sunday?
I am expecting a similar line up to the last two games we have played in the league to be honest:

Mignolet – Johnson Enrique Skrtel/Kelly Agger – Lucas Gerrard Henderson – Coutinho Aspas Sturridge

I don’t think the team playing 120mins Tuesday night should make too much of a difference given the season has only just started and after all the pre-season work completed. Obviously with Toure’s injury, it gives an opportunity to someone else and it will be a choice between Martin Skrtel and Martin Kelly, both have been out the team for a while, so it will certainly make us a little unsteady back there. I am also expecting Henderson to step up this year, he has come in for a lot of criticism since he moved with the big price tag, but when I see him play now, I think he has so much more confidence in his abilities, he could be like a new player for us.

9) If you could take one United player to Liverpool, who would it be?
Prior to seeing Kolo Toure in action I would of instantly picked Vidic who has been a magnificent servant to United over the years.

But just out of pure greed I would have to go for Van Persie, could you imagine a front three of … Sturridge, Suarez & Van Persie, keeping them happy and getting the best out of them together would be a challenge, but then that’s why Brendan’s there!

10) Busby, Shankly, Paisley, Ferguson – rank them in order of greatness.
This question could take a long time to answer!!! It’s so hard to make the comparisons of what that they have all achieved and I think there would be so many differing opinions. I think there are very valid arguments for all of these men being ahead of one another. But there is no dispute who has amassed the most honours, so at the top would have to be Sir Alex, he built United up from the foundations, and with the longevity and on-going success he had its likely a feat that will never be achieved again. I think next would be Paisley, whilst he was manager for the shortest period he managed to win 3 European Cups in 9 years and cement Liverpool’s place at the top. Then that leaves Busby and Shankly who were both way ahead of their time, the changes they made to both United and Liverpool could never be forgotten and have been instrumental in setting both teams up for the future, it was an era where there were restricted resources and you couldn’t just buy anyone you liked, but I can’t split them, so will leave that for everyone else to debate….

Team News

Manchester United
David Moyes is still without Brazilian fullback Rafael, who scored in this fixture last sesson, after picking up a hamstring injury in the 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield. Mexican striker Javier Hernandez and Nani could both feature on the bench after Moyes confirmed they’ve been back in training this week and are available, albeit lacking match sharpness. Ashley Young could well start ahead of Antonio Valencia, having come on a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

Brendan Rodgers is still without suspended tailisman Luis Suarez, who looks certain to remain at Anfield following interest from Arsenal. Aly Cissokho faces six weeks out with an ankle injury, whilst Joe Allen and Kolo Toure face late fitness tests on a hamstring and groin injury respectively. Uruguayan Sebastian Coates is definetely out, and could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Martin Skrtel is expected to make his return to the starting lineup.

Potential Manchester United line up

The only change David Moyes may make is to bring in Ashley Young for Antonio Valencia, who was wasteful with the ball in the attacking third against Chelsea. Young will no doubt be asked to track back and help out Phil Jones who will be faced with the task of keeping the creative Brazilian Philippe Coutinho quiet.


How would you line up against Liverpool?

Conclusion and Prediction

Although Brendan Rodgers has predicted a “less hostile” atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday now that Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t in charge, it will hardly be a quiet afternoon as the two most successful English sides do battle once more. The guard may have changed at the top of the Manchester United hierarchy, but the standards set in previous seasons will remain the same. Rodgers spoke in his press conference that although Moyes has “earned the right” to manage the champions of England, United may not be as fearsome as they once were under the guidance of the previous manager.

Rodgers, obviously trying to pile the pressure onto the new United boss, said that the void left could impact the “attitude at United” and referenced the fact that fans would have expected a goal as the game was drawing to a close in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea. Even after his retirement, “Fergie time” still appears to still be synonymous with United’s pursuit of a last minute victory.

Rodgers is a good manager and has made some excellent signings in his time at Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge struggled at Chelsea, despite having an abundance of quality in that left foot of his. His goal at Aston Villa shows excellent balance and ability to round the keeper and finish cooly under pressure. Philippe Coutinho, a January 2013 signing from Inter Milan, looks to be a great prospect who looks at ease dribbling his way through defenders and also has an eye for a pass. Iago Aspas got rave reviews from the Villa game, and will surely start against United on Sunday.

United’s record in recent seasons hasn’t been great at Anfield. United were fortunate to win last season, even though Liverpool had been forced to play a large chunk of the match with ten men following the dismissal of Jonjo Shelvey. David Moyes has only been in the job a few months, but he will not doubt be feeling the early pressure, especially with the lack of transfer activity combined with the, now resolved, Wayne Rooney situation. United’s failed bids for Fabregas, Fellaini and more recently, Daniele De Rossi and Ander Herrera should be more of a reflection on the club’s negotiation skills rather than the lack of aura exuberating from Moyes that his predecessor had, which has been suggested.

United’s bids have been made more public than ever before, which no doubt will be unsettling for the manager and players. The United boss has stated that his trip to Anfield is different now as he “travels with the champions” when asked about his previous trips with Everton. It will no doubt be an extremely tight affair, but with Wayne Rooney having a point to prove and his manager praising him for his performance against Chelsea, he could well be the difference in the city of his birth.

Prediction: 2-1 United.

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