Manchester United vs. Liverpool – Louis van Gaal and his new look Manchester United are finally settling in the English Premier League.
Louis van Gaal and his new look Manchester United are finally settling in the English Premier League.
A tumultuous start to this season saw their effort and patience pay off as the Red Devils saw off the likes of Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Hull, Stoke and Southampton to take the third place in the table but the visit of bitter rivals, Liverpool represents another acid test.
Manchester United were poor in victory at Southampton on Monday night but a victory nonetheless has boosted the morale of Wayne Rooney and company who would look to avenge for last year’s 3-0 thrashing against the Merseyside team.
Liverpool come into this tie, with an exit from the UEFA Champions League and might have affected the players mentally.
In stark contrast to their Sunday rivals, Liverpool are seven points behind the Red Devils and the manager Brendan Rodgers is under severe pressure. Form is below par for the team who haven’t put up a sustained challenge for the title throughout this season, with their current run of five games unbeaten in all competitions being the only shining light. Successive home draws against Sunderland and Basel with poor performances have cost them dearly and it seems the absence of Luis Suarez is hurting them badly.
Team news for both sides is that Jonny Evans could start for Manchester United after replacing the injured Chris Smalling in the win against Southampton whereas Phil Jones and Rafael have returned after two months out. Sadly for the United fans, their star buy this summer, Angel di Maria alongside Luke Shaw and Daley Blind remain sidelined with injuries.
For Liverpool, midfielder Adam Lallana is available despite having two cracked ribs, while defender Kolo Toure will be passed fit. Italian striker Mario Balotelli is back in training and could start after a six-match absence with a groin injury.
Going by pure statistics, the Old Trafford side has the upper hand in this tie having seen off the Anfield side 10 of the 12 most recent league and cup meetings at Old Trafford. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored two penalties and missed another when his side triumphed in March early this year. This is the 191st meeting in all competitions between this two giants of the EPL with Manchester United leading by 75 wins to Liverpool’s 64, with 51 draws amidst them.
Manchester United have picked up the pace in their last few games and with wins and only wins behind them, LVG’s side could go favourites into this tie with Liverpool in dire straits in the league.