A Score To Settle For Vengeful Devils
By Dan Salisbury-Jones.
Manchester United Vs Liverpool will today be watched by millions around the globe. It is the showcase of English football’s 2 most successful clubs and United have a few scores to settle over their bitter rivals.
It is 2 years this week since United last beat Liverpool. Winning 3-0, United fans will remember the great strike from Nani rounding off a classy performance in what was then a victory the Old Trafford faithful had become rather accustomed to, after not losing in the league to the Merseysider’s since 2004.
Rafa Benitez’s men have gone on to record a treble of victories over United since March 2008, during that period however they have failed to win a trophy with Old Trafford’s bulging cabinet welcoming no less than 7 new pieces of silverware.
Despite United’s recent success, it always hurts to lose to men just down the M62 and Darren Fletcher’s comments only go to fuel that fire.
“We need to show we’ve learnt our lesson from last year and we’re all desperate to win for everyone connected to the club.”
This ‘desperation’ to win is of course though not only important for local bragging rights, it’s a vital Premier League fixture in United’s quest to make it 4 titles in a row.
Yesterday Arsenal battled to a 2-0 victory over West Ham, that puts the Gunners top for the moment. Chelsea meanwhile, face a tricky trip to in form Blackburn, which can be seen live on Sky, directly after United Vs Liverpool.
Liverpool need the win to keep alive the salvation of their season, in trying to reach 4th spot. United’s 4th title in a row would be their 19th in all, 1 more of course than Liverpool.
Team news for the home side is all promising, especially with Welsh Wizard Ryan Giggs available to play a part in proceedings. Rafael has also made a recovery, as has Jonny Evans but with the backline looking as solid as brick wall, its doubtful either will play a major part.
The other piece of fantastic news from the Physio room this week was the appearance of Owen Hargreaves in a red shirt. He played 45 minutes for the reserves on Thursday night against Burnley. Sir Alex believes he will need a couple more of those outings before he is ready for first team football.
The visitors came through relatively unscathed after dispatching Lille in the Europa League on Thursday night. They will still be without Martin Skrtel who has a broken metatarsal and likely Fabio Aurelio. The only doubt from the team that did beat Lille is the fitness of Alberto Aquilani who has gone down with a virus. I was expecting to report on the absence of Steven Gerrard, he managed to some how escape punishment though after clearly elbowing a Portsmouth player in their last league fixture. The only suspension for Liverpool is self disciplined with Riera banned from the club until after the weekend after comments he made about his manager to the Spanish media.
The doubts over Aquilani will probably make up Rafa Benitez’s mind as far as team selection is concerned. You would suggest he will look towards the industry of the likes of Dirk Kuyt and Javier Mascherano that has seen his side dominate recent clashes between the two clubs.
Liverpool have had a very disappointing season considering the expectation that always surrounds the ‘big four.’ They have been consistently inconsistent with highs, such as beating United more than matched by lows, such as elimination from the Champions League at the group stage.
There has been a slight upturn in results since the turn of the year, with Rafa’s men now at least challenging for 4th spot when mid table obscurity was looking more likely.
Despite that, February and March has shown all the old hallmarks of inconsistency that has dogged this Liverpool team, the loss away at Wigan epitomising that. Gerrard Et Al will be hoping this week sparks Liverpool’s season into life though after thumping basement club Portsmouth 4-1 before turning round a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 aggregate victory, to ease through to the quarter final of the Europa League, knocking out French club Lille. A win at Old Trafford would really invigorate the Kop’s season.
Surely though, there will be no repeat performance of the debacle United found themselves in last year. United fans have been taunted by endless Sky Sports adverts with Liverpool’s captain kissing the camera ever since.
Nemanja Vidic that day had a nightmare, he still managed to go on to collect United’s player of the season award though and be sure that today the big Serbian will have a point to prove up against Fernando Torres. It could well be the case, that for all the talk of Rooney and Torres, United’s backline will be the difference. Rio Ferdinand seems to turn it on against Liverpool, who could forget his last minute header to send the Stretford End into a frenzy, followed just a year later by his classy finish into the top corner of the same goal.
United are in imperious form and you could find a threat from anywhere in the squad, on paper Sir Alex’s side have to be clear favourites. That said, Liverpool have obvious dangers in Torres, Gerrard, Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt, who seems to save his goals for the most vital of moments, today being apt.
It’s set to be an electric atmosphere inside Old Trafford, pubs and living rooms across Britain and the world, as England’s two biggest clubs lock horns. It’s an unpredictable belter of a game, United will surely turn up this time though… won’t they?