Liverpool vs Manchester United is live on Sky Sports HD1 tomorrow kicking off at 1.30pm. Click here to find out more.
If anything positive has come out of the latest robbery at Stamford Bridge, it’s the fact we’ve been distracted from our trip to Anfield this weekend. Like Ryan Giggs said today, there’s no place where it’s more satisfying to win, but with that comes the reality that nowhere feels worse to lose either.
In our home game against them this season, Dimitar Berbatov was the hero. He initially put United 2-0 ahead before we pressed the self-destruct button. A penalty scored by Steven Gerrard, before a free-kick, meant the score was levelled at 2-2. Gerrard did his usual kissing the camera bit, which was more cringey than usual considering it was just his equalising goal. Then, with just five minutes left, Berba outjumped Jamie Carragher to head past Pepe Reina to make it 3-2. It was a great moment.
Will Dimitar Berbatov start to inflict the same kind of damage? You would like to think so. He was left out of the starting team for our past two games, against Chelsea and Wigan, so surely this should be his time to return. Sir Alex Ferguson put out a rare 442 formation for our trip to Stamford Bridge and they did well, particularly in the first half, so will he be brave enough to try and same thing at Anfield?
Last year the game was all about Michael Owen, returning to Anfield and who was dragged down by last man Carragher with a few minutes remaining. Owen might just get in the squad this time but probably not. That groin injury doesn’t seem to be shifting. Anderson, Park, Valencia, Evans and Rio are all out too, with Evra also a doubt.
With Nemanja Vidic out following his late sending off at Stamford Bridge, we’re left with real problems at the back. Chris Smalling should play at centre back, John O’Shea at right back for that experience, with Wes Brown playing on the other side of Smalling. If Evra is out, we’ll have no choice to play inexperienced Fabio, who, on the bright side, scored his first United goal last weekend. It’s not exactly the back four you’d like to see for one of our biggest games of the season.
However, the manager will have been working hard behind the scenes this week, not just on trying to cut out the stupid things that seem to cost us goals against Liverpool so regularly, but on their mentality. For the third game running against Chelsea, the officials have robbed us of the points. The press, rather than addressing the fact it shouldn’t have been a penalty (an opinion supported by Ivanovic) and Luiz should have been sent off (an opinion supported by Ancelotti). By refusing to accept charges of wrong doing by implying that Atkinson wasn’t a “fair” referee, he is further working on the siege mentality, the us and against them, which our players have thrived upon so many times in the past.
Once Liverpool is out of the way, it means that’s one less tough game to play. With a trip to the Emirates and a home game against Chelsea (and the officials) still to play, it would be brilliant to leave Anfield with all three points. Obviously it’s not just the difficult games we need to look at, you can drop points anywhere, but after losing once already this week, to secure all the points this weekend would certainly help push us towards the finishing line.
So, who are we looking to? Rooney now has 5 goals in his past 8 games, scoring against City and Chelsea, which certainly means to would fancy him for another important goal tomorrow. Nani is scoring or assisting every game. Berba will be looking to show the manager he is wrong to consistently drop him for the big games, despite the damage the manager’s decision must have on his confidence. Scholes bossed the first half against Chelsea but we’ll be looking for him to sustain that dominance.
The pressure has been released somewhat, with Arsenal blowing their chance to take advantage of our result against Chelsea, but that shouldn’t blur our focus for the task in hand.
A win at Anfield, courtesy of a last minute O’Shea tap in, was the moment you really started to believe in 2007, as we looked to bring the title back. Let’s hope a win at Anfield tomorrow will help us achieve the same.
Liverpool vs Manchester United is live on Sky Sports HD1 tomorrow kicking off at 1.30pm. United’s next three games are all available in HD through Sky, click here to find out more.