Liverpool and Manchester United. They are the two most storied clubs in the history of English football. Between them, they’ve won a combined 38 titles in England’s top division (finishing runners up a further combined 28 times). They might not be on course to add to that history this season, but both teams are very clearly in the picture to finish as high as second. They are also direct rivals in the race for Champions League places. There’s a good chance that only one of these teams will be competing in Europe’s top competition next season.Throw in the fact that Man Utd won the previous tie in this rivalry 3-0 and that Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton all won games on Saturday to keep the pressure on places up, and you have the recipe for a potential classic clash.
United are a team that continue to puzzle. Opinion on Louis Van Gaal’s style of play and results are still divided. However, there is a trend emerging that his team seems to find a way to secure a big result just when they need to. A case in point was last weekend’s impressive 3-0 victory against Spurs. After muddling through the previous few weeks and appearing fragile, Man Utd burst out of the blocks, controlled the flow of the game and did a great job defensively against recently called into the England squad Harry Kane.
Robin Van Persie remains sidelined, but expect Angel Di Maria and a loaded midfield to aim for ball control at Anfield.
The two team’s styles could hardly be more different. The 3-0 loss at Old Trafford was a major turning point for Brendan Rodgers tactically. It was the beginning of a 3-4-2-1 formation that is generally credited with Liverpool’s revival after a dire start to their EPL campaign. They haven’t lost a game since the calendar flipped to 2015. Win this one and Rodgers’ team will jump back into the Champions League places – a crucial opportunity for a Liverpool team looking to re-establish a status as one of the country’s elite teams.
This team has pace and has found a way to return to the sort of fast-paced football that was so common last year. The likes of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen give this team a core in the middle of the field, there are signs that Adam Lallana is settling in in this formation and of course Raheem Stirling and Daniel Sturridge are both explosive, attacking footballers.
Betting Preview: Liverpool 11/10, Manchester United 5/2, Draw 14/5
Van Gaal’s team are probably being a little under-rated. This won’t go Liverpool’s way if they under-estimate an opponent with good players and that showed what it is capable of last weekend. Both of these teams are desperate to get into those Champions League places, but we just feel that Rodgers will get his team to play with a little extra freedom and Liverpool will go out to get three points from this game.
The Pick: (bet365.com) Liverpool 11/10
Brendan Rodgers • English Premier League Raheem Stirling • EPL • Liverpool • Louis Van Gaal • Man United • Wayne Rooney