Liverpool v Manchester United
Sunday 23rd September, Kick off 13:30
Liverpool are still without Lucas Leiva who will be out for a few more weeks following his thigh injury. Jose Enrique will likely return to the starting lineup. Although he didn’t have a very good game against Young Boys in Switzerland I believe that he will still get the nod. Most of the senior players were rested on Thursday so they should be fresh for this game. I believe that the Gaffer will start with the same lineup that faced Sunderland last weekend with Jose Enrique returning to left-back and Glen Johnson playing on the right. Raheem Sterling will get another start and so will Jonjo Shelvey after his impressive cameo on Thursday.
Many sports betting companies are however not impressed with last Thursday’s game and their odds favour Manchester United. Not surprising considering that Liverpool are still without a win this season in the Barclays Premier League. The Reds are currently sit in 16th place, after four games having only grabbed two points from a possible twelve. Many Liverpool fans feel like me and although we ended with a draw against Sunderland we feel hopeful, we are starting to see the team coming together and getting used to Brendan Rodgers’ style of play.
Without a doubt Manchester United are Liverpool’s top rivals, no matter where both clubs sit in the league table or what form they are in. Last season this same game ended in a draw, after a Steve Gerrard free kick saw Liverpool take the lead in the first half a late goal by Javier Hernandez was enough for United to share the spoils. Of course we all know that the same game last year was over-shadowed with the Evra/Suarez incident and created a lot of bad blood between the clubs. The release of the Hillsborough documents last week has given both clubs an opportunity to unite in a show of solidarity for the families of the ninety-six and a tribute is planned by both clubs before kick-off.
Predicted Lineup : Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen, Jonjo Shelvey, Steve Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini,Luis Suarez
Stats Below provided by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index
- A second half equaliser from Luis Suarez granted Liverpool a point away to Sunderland, in a week full of emotion for their fans following the revelations surrounding the Hillsborough disaster earlier in the week. Raheem Sterling continued to impress as he provided the greatest threat for the Reds, with Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson also having near misses in front of goal.
- Brendan Rogers hailed the influence of Luis Suarez following Liverpool’s draw with Sunderland. However the Uruguayan may be looking for even greater sharpness in his play given that he ranks first on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for shots off target this season with 12.
- Suarez would do well to control his temper in his defensive work in the coming weeks. He tops the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for yellow cards with 3 and is the only striker in the top ten.
- Up and coming midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was the hardest working player from either side away to Sunderland last weekend, covering 6.16 miles.
- Joe Allen has continued his quick adaptation to life on Merseyside and has already become a central figure in Brendan Rogers’ midfield. He’s received the ball a total of 211 times in Liverpool’s opening matches, a club-leading figure.
- Allen is also third overall in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for distance covered with 25.22 miles, having covered more ground than any other Liverpool player in three of his four games for the club
- Alongside Allen in midfield, Steven Gerrard again proved what a pivotal figure he can be for Liverpool. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, he successfully completed 42 passes in the opponent’s half and 3 crosses against Sunderland.
- A midfield masterclass from the seemingly ageless Paul Scholes was the catalyst behind a thumping 4-0 win at home for Man Utd against Wigan. After weathering an early storm of defensive hounding by Wigan, second half goals from Scholes, Javier Hernandez and impressive debutants Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell ensured a convincing win for Utd.
- Even at 37, Paul Scholes continues to provide an incredibly effective return for the time he spends on the pitch. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index rates him passing game very highly, with only 2 minutes and 14 seconds between each of his successful passes in the opponent’s half so far this season.
- Debutant Alexander Buttner is clearly keen to show Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson that he can do more than just deputise for Patrice Evra. He was Utd’s second fastest player against Wigan after being clocked at 19.84mph.
- Michael Carrick continues to quietly go about his work in the midfield for Man Utd this season making it easy to see why he’s played more minutes that any other Man Utd player this season with 390. He covered more ground than any other United player last weekend against Wigan, working hard for 6.39 miles.
- The ever-reliable Antonio Valencia has continued with his steadfast level of performance this season. He’s made 55 successful passes in the attacking third, more than any other Man Utd player.