The return of the Premier League is what every fan has been crying for these past weeks. Finally we can sit back and watch the football that really matters. What better way than to kick off with the North West derby between Liverpool and Manchester United.
That will definitely blow the cobwebs away from the International break. Saturday’s showdown might not have generated the same hype that we are accustomed to but there is no doubt that this is definitely going to be anticipating and fiercely contested. So if you have plans cancel them, if you have work call in sick, as this is one match you don’t want to miss out on.
Form: Manchester United currently lie top of the league with 19 points after seven games,6 points ahead of rivals Liverpool who lie in 5th place. Since their 4-0 mauling at White Hart Lane, Liverpool can take some confidence going into this match after notching up three straight wins. United on the other hand come into this match with raised eyebrows over recent performances. The Red Devils haven’t been as convincing of late, after their impressive start to the season. They have looked pretty shaky at the back and doubts over whether the inexperience at the back is taken its toll are being questioned. Although in fairness United have only conceded 5 goals this term.
Head to Head: Liverpool go into this match knowing that they have been successful over their rivals recently, having beaten them on 4 occasions in their last 6 matches in the Premier League. Liverpool can also take confidence on the fact that United haven’t won at Anfield since 2007 after a Tevez goal secured a 1-0 win.
Players to watch: The centre stage will be on the return of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, both for different reasons. Liverpool talisman and captain Steven Gerrard will be making his first team appearance since March 6 after his long term groin problem and will certainly be eager to make amends for his lost time.
Wayne Rooney has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. He has become from hero to villain in a short space of time after his reckless behaviour cost him dear in Montenegro. Rooney will definitely want to restore some pride and it would be just typical of Rooney to get his first goal at Anfield since January 2005 and make the right sort of headlines.
Injury News: Liverpool have a fully fit squad with captain Steven Gerrard set to make his first team appearance for Liverpool, while defenders Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio all made available.
United will leave it to the last minute to decide whether captain Nemanja Vidic is fit to start his first competitive match since the opening day of the season. Ferguson will also be praying that Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley are given the ok by doctors to play, while Rafael Da Silva has been ruled out.
Team Selection: Andy Carroll will be looking to add to his goal tally after scoring in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Everton. He and Suarez will be looking to add pressure on United’s defence and goalkeeper David De Gea who at times have looked very unconvincing. Kenny Dalglish now has a huge headache on his shoulders over where to fit all his midfielders in. Dalglish will probably keep faith in Dirk Kuyt over £20 million Henderson after scoring in his last game and scoring a hat-trick in last season’s fixture. Charlie Adam will probably make way for captain Steven Gerrard who will partner Lucas in the middle with Downing on the left. For United, newly-capped England International Phil Jones might play right back if Vidic is deemed fit to start. Ferguson will have to choose whether to stick with Hernandez who just signed a new 5 year deal or go with Wellbeck to partner Rooney up front.
Prediction: This is a huge game for Liverpool, more so to them, than for United. Liverpool had big expectations for this season, and a win could put them 3 points behind leaders United, but a loss can put them 9 and send them a long way back. It would send out all the wrong signals if Liverpool were to lose and for that I believe Liverpool will play with a fast attacking tempo and be right up for this game. Liverpool to win 2-1