8:45am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (h) 09.13.08
0-3 United (a) 3.23.08
0-1 United (h) 12.16.07
0-1 United (h) 03.03.07
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 4-0 Real (h); 2-0 Sunderland (h); 0-2 Boro (a)
United: 2-0 Inter (h); 4-0 Fulham (a); 2-1 Newcastle (a)
Liverpool: Gerrard 9; Torres 8; Kuyt 7; Alonso, Benayoun 3; Babel, Riera 2; Arbeloa, Aurelio, Carragher, Hyypia, Ngog 1
United: Ronaldo 12; Rooney 9; Berbatov 8; Vidic 4; Fletcher, Tevez 3; Carrick 2; Brown, Giggs, Nani, Park, Rafael, Scholes, Welbeck 1
Referee: Alan Wiley
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Kuyt Gerrard Babel
Same team as last time out please. And it’s self-explanatory. Not only was it Liverpool’s best performance in a while, Benitez also took the reins off, which needs to happen again.
Yes, a home European match is different than a trip to Old Trafford, but Liverpool’s got little to lose. Out of the title race but with a top four spot seemingly locked up, and full of confidence. Put United on the back foot and play without fear, like the team did in the 2-1 win at Anfield in September. Easier said than done, I know, but honestly, I’d rather see Liverpool go for the win and lose than another draw.
In addition, United’s strength lies in their attack. Yes, Ferdinand and Vidic is the best defensive pairing in the league, while Van der Sar recently set the clean sheet streak record, but United wins games by bludgeoning the opposition until they get the goal for a 1-0 victory. It’s happened countless times this season, and that’s the reason – in comparison to Liverpool’s countless 0-0s – they’re in first. But if you keep the ball away from them, they don’t get the opportunity to find that rhythm or that goal.
What I’m most afraid of is conceding on a set piece. Not only is Vidic a beast – with seven goals in all competitions – but that’s how United have killed Liverpool in the past. Ronaldo and Tevez both scored against Liverpool from corners last season (Tevez’s was the winner in a 0-1 loss), and if you go further back, there’s O’Shea’s last-minute winner in March 2007, Ferdinand’s last-minute winner in January 2006, and Silvestre’s headed brace in 2004. Needless to say, it’s been a problem, and it makes me think that if Arbeloa hasn’t fully recovered from his injury, we’ll see Carragher at right back and Hyypia in the middle for his aerial prowess.
I’ll admit it; I hate matches against Manchester United, and I’m usually shitting myself in the run-up. And given United’s form, I probably should be here. Their last league loss came on November 8; their last league draw was back on December 13. But, with the win earlier in the season and the crushing victory over Madrid three days ago, it feels like anything’s possible. Liverpool’s 3-1-0 against the ‘big four’ so far this season, and we’ve know this team has the potential to beat anyone on their day. Now let’s see it.
It’s a pity this match isn’t as important to the title race as we’d hoped a couple of months ago, but pride’s a powerful motivator too.