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    Liverpool v Man United - Huge game for both sides


    Written by Antony Martin
    @antonymmartin84

    With the mid-week's football behind us, two of England's most famous clubs are set to face off in what has the potential to be a classic. Liverpool and United are coming off the back of two 3-3 draws, both achieved in entirely different circumstances. While United produced one of the best performances of their campaign in the first half against Newcastle, the second half was a completely different story. They conceded a last-minute equaliser, which must have made it feel more like a loss. Liverpool followed this up with an invigorating encounter of their own, drawing 3-3 with league leaders Arsenal. A 90th minute Joe Allen volley sending both Klopp and the Kop wild. So from that perspective you would have to think Liverpool would have had more of a bounce in their steps in training this week.

    There should be fireworks a plenty come Sunday lunchtime. You need look no further than Liverpool's shaky defence and their in-ability to pick people up from set pieces. Add to that the feeling that Louis Van Gaal is finally bowing down to supporter pressure and playing the 'United way'. Statistics also point to a thriller with no draws being recored in the last ten fixtures between the two sides. The last time the points were shared was a 1-1 draw at Anfield in October 2012. In those ten games there have been 27 goals. A draw is no good to either side in the pursuit of the hallowed 4th spot. Expect both sides to go for the jugular from the off, the usual Merseyside-Manchester derby rules will not apply here, there will be no cagey first fifteen minutes, sizing each other up, both sides need to win this game, desperately.

    Liverpool have three wins in their last ten games, which amazingly is more than United who have only two. So neither side are entering this massive game with any kind of form to speak of. Liverpool will be encouraged by the display of Roberto Firmino on Wednesday night, especially with the continued absence of the crocked Daniel Sturridge, while their £32 million man Christian Benteke is still yet to find his feet on Merseyside. This is the sort of game though where hero's are made, so I expect Benteke will be given the chance to prove his worth through the middle flanked by Firmino and either Lallana or the explosive young talent Jordan Ibe. Klopp will probably stick with the solid midfield three of Milner, Henderson and the excellent Emre Can, with the later providing a shield for the back four. Dejan Lovren is returning to fitness but this game will come too soon for him, so Toure and Sakho will be sandwiched by Clyne and Moreno much the same as Wednesday night. The much maligned Mignolet looks set to continue between the sticks.

    For Manchester United, Bastain Schweinsteiger is likely to miss out once again with a knee injury. Phil Jones is another doubt with an ankle injury, while Michael Carrick could return after missing the game on Tuesday night. Wayne Rooney will again lead the United attack, but it is unlikely that Jesse Lingard will retain his place after his shocking miss was attributed to United's fail to win in midweek. Juan Mata should be set for a recall in the place of Lingard. United are expected to stick with Schneiderlin pinning their midfield, sitting just behind Ander Herrera. Marouane Fellaini should start, his aerial ability being seen as a great advantage against a weak Liverpool back line. Smalling and Blind are beginning to forge a good understanding, and they will be accompanied in defence by Darmian and the makeshift right back Ashley Young. If it were a match of less magnitude, I would expect Van Gaal to include Borthwick-Jackson at left back and shift Darmian back to the right, but you can't ignore Young's experience in big games, and surely the Dutchman will utilise that. The magnificent De Gea must be the first name on Van Gaal's team sheet these days and he will continue to marshal United's goal.

    Predicted Outcome:

    I think it will be a high scoring, end-to-end encounter at Anfield on Sunday. Wayne Rooney looks to have finally found some form, and he seems to be back to his best, but I don't think it will be enough to take the three points back to Manchester. Liverpool's quick tempo, high press game will be too hard for the United midfield to deal with in the first half and I expect them to really go for united in the first half an hour, much like Arsenal did at the Emirates in October. The atmosphere will be rampantly passionate, as will be the match, and both managers have placed high importance on gaining maximum points here. I'm going for a Benteke inspired Liverpool to win 2-1 and make big inroads into that last remaining Champions League spot, and in turn, heap more misery on Louis Van Gaal's ailing troops.



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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool v Man United - Huge game for both sides Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Antony Martin
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