On Sunday 16th March, the two most successful teams in British football history and arguably the two greatest rivals in the history of English football, will clash once again.
David Moyes’ Manchester United will take on Brendan Rodgers’ resurgent Liverpool at Old Trafford, though this season does see an unusual reversal of roles in the fixture.
In the past, most of these fixtures have seen perennial title contenders Manchester United vying for three points against a Liverpool team chasing some way behind and hoping to claw back points in the hope of snatching a Champions League berth.
This season, those roles have been reversed.
Second place Liverpool are in stunning form, especially at home – but have looked defensively fragile at times. The Reds need a win if they are to have any chance of closing the seven-point gap on Chelsea (albeit, the Reds have a game in hand) at the top of the table.
For United, it is about giving their fans hope that they may yet snatch the fourth Champions League spot, most likely from Liverpool. A win here is the bare minimum and David Moyes will know that the United faithful, many of whom are unused to seeing the team languish in sixth, 18 points behind the league leaders, are growing impatient for success.
It promises to be an intriguing clash and one which could play a defining role in how the 2013-2014 Barclays Premier League season pans out.
Manchester United – a preview
Last weekend’s 3-0 win at West Brom was a welcome win for United boss David Moyes who admitted last week that this transitional first year for him following the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson had been worse than he expected.
The game with Liverpool therefore is a huge one for the United manager and a win would not only improve their Champions League prospects markedly, but also dent Liverpool’s title aspirations, perhaps beyond repair.
A big call for David Moyes is the selection of Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman looks completely out of sorts at the moment and was lucky not to be sent off after just 3 minutes of last week’s clash with West Brom. United improved markedly when he was substituted, so will Moyes consider dropping the Dutchman for this crucial clash?
United can point to a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in September in the Capital One Cup, when Javier Hernandez’ goal put the Red Devils into the next round and many United fans will be hoping for a similar result, if not better, come Sunday.
Key man – Wayne Rooney
Rooney was back on song for United at the weekend after a miserable performance for England in the week prior.
United will need their £300,000-a-week striker at his deadly best to take advantage of a Liverpool defence that has looked increasingly shaky in recent months.
Liverpool – a preview
Liverpool’s title challenge this season has been a welcome surprise across Merseyside with Brendan Rodgers’ men exceeding expectations sitting in a lofty 2nd place in the table, albeit 7 points behind Chelsea.
The Reds do have a game in hand, and are yet to welcome Chelsea and Manchester City, who along with Arsenal, are their main rivals for the title, to Anfield, where the Reds have been in inspired form of late.
Away from home though Rodgers men have been somewhat less impressive and they have been leaking plenty of goals, which is a worry against a team as talented in attack as Manchester United.
However, Liverpool’s S-Factor, Sturridge, Suarez and Sterling have been in imperious attacking form of late and they pose a threat to any defence in the league.
Liverpool lost in the Capital One Cup in September, but a few weeks prior to that did record a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the league at Anfield, Daniel Sturridge’s early goal enough to win the game. The Red’s achieve that without Luis Suarez too, who will be hoping he can terrorise United’s back line as he has done several times previously.
If Liverpool are to have any chance of catching Chelsea and staying ahead of Manchester City, this is a game that Brendan Rodgers must win, however this is a tall order for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Key man – Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez has been one of the star performers, if not the star player, in the Premier League this season and in 23 Premier League games, the Uruguayan has netted an astonishing 24 goals.
Yet his creativity, drive and flair are equally as vital for the team. If Liverpool are going to win at Old Trafford, then Suarez will undoubtedly have to have a big game.
Top betting tips: Manchester United v Liverpool
Given both teams defensive problems this season, allied to the attacking talent on show, the Both Teams to Score – Yes bet is clearly one bet to consider.
However at the moment, the best price is currently around 1.53 with Bet365, which isn’t the most enticing odds for a single bet.
As such, I’d be tempted to place a bet on this as part of a Both Teams to Score accumulator bet, or by doubling it up with another market listed below (if your bookmaker allows it).
One potential bet is the Match Result and Both Teams to Score Market bet, which sees you nominate a team to win the game (or you can select a draw) and that both teams will score. Here you can get odds of 4.0 on a draw, 4.33 on a Man Utd win and 5.0 on a Liverpool win, all with both teams scoring. At those odds, I think the 4.33 on Manchester United looks a solid choice there.
Lastly, the first goalscorer is always a popular bet and there will be more than a few people looking at which players will be in the running here. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge offer Liverpool’s best bet, but if you think United will score first then with doubts over whether Robin Van Persie will even play, Wayne Rooney is the obvious choice here, with odds on the striker expected to be around the 6.0 or 7.0 mark.
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