Is this the fiercest rivalry in English football? Most television pundits and journalists would say it’s the biggest game in English Football.
I would agree, although our noisy neighbours have started to string together a few passes, this is still the biggest game for us Devils.
Our best player for the last 2 seasons could return, and we should all be welcoming him back with open arms. Whatever happened in the transfer market, he’s still a United player. We have been solid at the back this season, Sergio Romero has put in a shift but he has been protected well by our new Centre back pairing of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind. Smalling has come on leaps and bounds this season and has been our best player so far.
The loss of Christian Benteke will hurt Liverpool, having already lost Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini in the summer window. Benteke would most likely have tested Daley Blind in the same way as Gomis last time out.
The absence of Jordan Henderson will mean that essentially United’s midfield is far superior for the first time in years. This will be a true test for James Milner who is now playing where he has claimed for years that he is suited to playing. Emre Can who after unsuccessfully bring deployed in a defensive role last season may feature further up the pitch to support the likes of Firmino in attack.
This is a big game, especially for Louis Van Gaal. He has been criticised for our current style of play, and at times it is frustrating to watch sideways passing. The interviews this week give an insight into the project at United. Signings such as Anthony Martial are exciting but LVG is planning for the future. I expect Martial to play a role off the bench this season, and feel he could make an impact with his electric pace. However, on form the stats are very similar to David Moyes reign at United. So the pressure is definitely on. Given the large amounts of money spent if we fail to beat Liverpool have we really progressed from this time last year? You could that this isn’t a “make or break” match for either team but given United’s last two results this would truly derail what was a promising start to the campaign, in terms of picking up valuable points. At the 5 match stage in David Moyes’ reign United had 7 points having scored seven but conceding 6. If United attain even a point today at 8 points there will be no Van Gaal vs Moyes comparisons for a couple more games at least. If United go out and attack with the dynamism of last seasons performances it will calm the growing tensions around Old Trafford.
The key in this match will be the midfield battle and aggression. The Away fixture last year has been the best we have played at Anfield in many years. I suspect Liverpool will set up with a strong midfield to avoid getting overrun. They are missing Coutinho, which is a massive bonus for us as he can cause problems. So it will be up to us to break them down, which has been our greatest problem this season so far. We may choose to recall Fellaini, to provide that extra power. Given Rooney’s possible injury this may be up front or behind Memphis as a “number 10”.
I think our best football was against Club Brugge away this season. Our 4-2-3-1 formation with Ander Herrera in a more advanced position, made the difference. I’d like to see us distributing the ball a lot more quickly, especially getting it wide to Memphis to have a go at the inexperienced Clyne.
Here’s how I would like to see us against Liverpool.
Key players: Herrera, Memphis, Schweinsteiger & De Gea
Liverpool players to watch:
Lovren: nervous and unreliable again at times this season. If up against Memphis or Martial he will need Skrtel’s help to deal with their pace.
Firmino: having been criticised at the Copa America for failing to fill in for Neymar, this is his first taste of big game occasion in the Premier League.
Prediction: 2-0 MUFC
Liverpool’s defence is still unconvincing and United’s midfield should be able to marshall the defence well enough against the likes of Firmino and potentially Origi. If United can attack with confidence this should be a win for them in front of the Old Trafford faithful