Sunday 14th December – 13:30 – Old Trafford
They are the most successful clubs in England, so it is no surprise they form one of the biggest rivalries in the country. While both sides are far from the glory days of winning the top flight title, the battle for supremacy and victory continues. Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Sunday, looking to turn their season around and start making headway up the Premier League table. The hosts, who have two more league titles to boast about than the Reds, have had a revival in recent weeks after a difficult start – the Red Devils are currently on a five-game winning streak, which has lifted them up to third, eight points from table toppers Chelsea. Liverpool currently sit in ninth, having lost three times in their last six matches. Recent victories over Leicester City and Stoke City have allowed manager Brendan Rodgers some breathing room, but that will all be for nothing in the eyes of the fans if they fail to get a result against their arch-enemy, especially after crashing out of the Champions League in midweek. It may not be a top of the table clash, but the rivalry is as strong as ever.
The Key Battle: Marouane Fellaini vs Steven Gerrard
In recent weeks, there has been many rumblings over whether Stevie G still has what it takes to carry Liverpool.
The 34-year-old has dropped to a deeper position in the midfield to ease the physical demands on him, and while there hasn’t been many 30-yard screamers from him, his experience is still invaluable as was showed in midweek against Basel.
Yet, he will be facing up to a Belgian who has had a revival under Van Gaal this season. At the start of the year, Fellaini was seen as a scapegoat for ex-manager David Moyes’ failings, but has shown this term that he deserves his place in the United side.
The midfielder’s strength and ability to defend and push forward into attack have been key for the Red Devils in recent weeks, as he is fast becoming a regular in the team.
- Angel Di Maria will be missing again for Manchester United having sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury.
- Luke Shaw and Daley Blind also remain sidelined, but Louis Van Gaal’s injury list has shortened.
- The good news is that defenders Rafael and Phil Jones are both back from their long-term groin and shin injuries.
- Mario Balotelli is back in training and could return to the squad for the trip to Old Trafford. The Italy forward has been sidelined since November 8 because of a groin problem sustained on international duty.
- Midfielder Adam Lallana will be in the squad despite breaking two ribs just over a week ago.
- Centre-back Kolo Toure is expected to have recovered from a groin injury just in time to feature at Old Trafford. This could mean Dejan Lovren drops to the bench again.
Manchester United wins = 75 / Liverpool wins = 64 / Draws = 51
Last Meeting: Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool (5th August 2014)
Wayne Rooney was among the scorers as Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-1 in the International Champions Cup in Miami, a friendly competition in pre-season this year. United came from a goal down thanks to second-half strikes from captain Rooney, Juan Mata and youngster Jesse Lingard securing the trophy for new boss Louis van Gaal. Liverpool had taken the lead in the 14th minute, when Phil Jones fouled Raheem Sterling in the box and Steven Gerrard scored from the spot.
NB: The last competitive meeting between the sides saw Liverpool win 3-0 at Old Trafford in March.
Where can I watch it?
The match is being shown live on Sky Sports 1, with their coverage of the 1:30pm kick-off beginning at 12:30pm. Alternatively, highlights of the game are being shown on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evening, BBC One at 10:45pm.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Liverpool
Manchester United are in very good form at the moment, and should be fired up for this intense rivalry. As will Liverpool, but could they still be suffering from their midweek Champions League heartbreak? I think the Red Devils will win it, with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney with the goals.