Speed will be key to exposing Manchester United’s temporary defenders…
With both sides struggling defensively, even if we don’t get a point against Manchester United tomorrow, we should at least get some goals. Both teams have scored in eight of United’s last 11 games.
Nobody knows who Louis Van Gaal will pick in defence. His three-man back-line was very quickly shifted to a traditional four at the back in Monday’s clash at Southampton as youngster Paddy McNair was hauled off.
It seems unlikely Van Gaal will persist with the youngster after a confidence shattering display on Monday night, and Phil Jones is probably not going to be fit in time for tomorrow’s game.
For us, Kolo Touré is back in training, and Brendan Rodgers faces a tough call over whether to stick with Dejan Lovren after an improved performance in midweek, or revert to Touré, who has just won the player of the month award.
Either way, both sides look shaky at the back, and Rodgers’ side must push forward from the very start to get on the scoresheet, as they certainly can’t rely on keeping a clean sheet.
Raheem Sterling has a key role to play tomorrow, and Steven Gerrard will be looking to pick out the youngster with long diagonals. Neither Antonio Valencia nor Ashley Young are full-backs, although they will be playing there if Van Gaal sticks with his back four.
If Gerrard can play early balls to Sterling and get him isolated one on one with United’s rag-tag defence he can cause them serious problems. More of the slow, ponderous build-up we’ve seen this season will allow the Red Devils to reset and protect their weak points more easily.
Speed is what made our team so good last season, and it’s a lack of it that’s hurting us this term. With a bit of luck – and a bit of pace – we can seriously hurt United tomorrow.