It’s no secret that Manchester United are enduring one of their worst Premier League campaigns to date but the Red Devils will still want to perform well and get a result against their bitter rivals. If United can halt a growing Liverpudlian title charge it may just buy manager David Moyes a bit more patience from the Red Devils’ faithful - something he badly needs. It must be over 20 years since Liverpool supporters went into an Old Trafford contest with such confidence - even the title push of 2008/2009 wasn’t this promising - and the Reds will surely fancy themselves after becoming the Premier League’s highest ever goal scorers at the 28 game mark. There is much on the line as always and it should be a nerve shredding occasion for both sets of fans.
Both these sides have seen injury worries subside somewhat over the last few weeks and David Moyes heads into this game with the just the four players injured or doubtful. Full back Rafael will undergo a late fitness test to make sure he’s ready for a return after his ankle injury whereas Javier Hernandez, Nani and Evans are all missing with knee, hamstring and calf injuries respectively.
Liverpool fans will be delighted to see their squad bolstered by the returns of Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho who should both be on the bench at the very least for the visit to Manchester. Brendan Rodgers’ only real worry is that of Enrique who has taken much longer than anticipated to come back from a knee operation. The Spaniard isn’t thought to be close to a return.
- Manchester United have already lost three league games this calendar year - Spurs, Chelsea and Stoke have all beaten David Moyes’ struggling Champions
- United seem to lack to the spark when in possession and they have lost possession of the ball on 363 different occasions compared to just 306 for Liverpool.
- This trend continues when you see that the Red Devils have only created 34 clear-cut chances all season, compared to the mammoth 66 created by Liverpool.
- Brendan Rodgers’ side are the top goal scorers in the league on 73 goals, although they have played two more games than Manchester City who currently sit on 69.
- The Reds head into this game in great form with just the one defeat in their last 10 league games. That defeat came to league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (2-1).
- Liverpool haven’t been great at defending this season and this is shown in the amount of defensive errors they have made. The Merseysiders have made 33 defensive errors compared to just 15 from United players
- Both teams have an 84% passing accuracy from open play but Liverpool tend to go forward more than Manchester United. The Reds pass forward 37% of the time compared to United’s 33%
- Liverpool have scored 47 first half goals in the league this season, one more than Manchester United’s entire total for the season.
Wayne Rooney has had one those seasons which leaves people perplexed about his ability. He’s been very good and pretty poor at different stages of the season but he’s still racked up a fantastic 11 goals and 10 assists so far this season. The amount of assists is much more impressive than the goal return but it shows that Rooney has taken on the responsibility of heaving United out of the mud upon himself more than most. Rooney is a striker but he’s proving his worth in all aspects of the game this season. As well as scoring 11 league goals and creating 10 assists, he’s recovered possession in his own defensive third on 35 separate occasions (to put this into context, Liverpool’s key man Luis Suárez has done the same thing just 14 times this season and we all know how hard working he is). Not only is Rooney charging around the field but he’s also converting a good chunk of his clear-cut chances, the English talisman has scored 44% of his CCC’s this season which is a very competitive level to be at - this stat also shows that while Rooney has scored less than his normal share this season, he’s been taking his chances so United’s problem is that they simply don’t create enough for van Persie and Rooney.
Frankly, the world of sports writing has run out of words to characterise this Uruguayan sensation. He’s been quite simply irresistable. Suárez sits atop the top goalscorers chart and the assists chart with 24 goals and 10 assists and it doesn’t look like anyone can stop him. Suárez is still six goals clear of Daniel Sturridge in the goalscoring charts having played predominantly out wide for most of 2014 to accommodate his English teammate. And whilst the two do battle for the reward of holding the Golden Boot come May, Liverpool rumble on like the offensive juggernaut they have become. Few could deny that Liverpool deserve a spot in this season’s top four and fewer still could deny that Luis Suárez has been the Player of the Year by some distance and with figures like these who could possibly say no to him. Not only does he have the amazing creativity and goalscoring figures shown above but he works hard too. Suárez enters into a ground duel every 6.25 minutes (Rooney = every 9.93 minutes) and he’s completed 64 dribbles already this season. His crossing accuracy of 34% is one of the highest in the league for players with more than 10 games under their belts. He’s also created a whopping 19 clear-cut chances for his teammates with those CCC’s arriving every 114.7 minutes, on average - compared to Rooney that is lightning quick with United’s star creating a CCC every 242 minutes.
This should be one of the special games of the season and Liverpool fans will be hoping for another huge victory similar to the ones against Everton, Arsenal and Spurs. For sure, a scoreline similar to the ones in those games will all but kill David Moyes’ first season in charge - especially with a 2-0 Champions League first leg defeat to overturn just three days later. My prediction is for a Liverpool win but not of the calibre seen in the games against the other big boys this season - I’ll go for a 2-1 Liverpool win with one of Suárez or Sturridge to score.