Manchester will turn red on Saturday morning/afternoon as United and Liverpool meet for the third time in the past 12 months. United have failed to win any of these matches (2L 1D), being dumped out of the FA Cup two weeks ago, by a late Dirk Kuyt strike. These last three matches were all played at Anfield.
Their three previous encounters (league and FA Cup) were all at Old Trafford, with United winning all three. Uncharacteristically, United have lost fewer games away than at home this season, a statistic that is unlikely to carry through to May. The last time that United lost fewer games away from home than at Old Trafford was in the 2001/02 season which was also the last time that Liverpool finished higher than United in the Premier League. Arsenal were Champions that season, Liverpool were runners up, and United finished third.
There has always been a great rivalry between United and Liverpool, European boasts, perches to be knocked off etc, but recent events have added a bitter taste to what was always a spicy, but sporting affair. I hope that the focus on Saturday will be totally on the football, but I am afraid that several factors are likely to drag the hatred and bad feeling arising from Suarezgate through the rest of this season and beyond. Human nature, ignorance, tribal mentality and the inability to accept responsibility and to forgive and forget will taint this fixture for years to come . . . . . and that’s just Kenny Dalglish.
Suarez may start the match, his first start since his eight match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra. Will they shake hands? That’s up to Patrice Evra, I doubt that many players would. I do not understand why Kenny Dalglish still insists on saying that Suarez should not have been banned. Perhaps the FA just made up the evidence against Suarez, Kenny? Or KD just doesn’t understand how serious the issue really is?
Rooney is showing what he is capable of on a more regular basis, confidently putting away two penalties at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
De Gea still needs lessons on using his elbows against forwards when jumping for a ball.
Andy Carroll is only just beginning to pay back the £35m investment Liverpool made in him, and is now Liverpool’s third top goalscorer with 5 goals. Liverpool’s top 3 goalscorers (Bellamy, Suarez, Carroll have scored a total of 22 goals this season, compared to United’s top three (Rooney, Berbatov, Welbeck) who have scored 38 between them.
Liverpool, 7th in the league, have drawn too many matches this season, only Villa have drawn more. Liverpool are still unbeaten in the league at Anfield but have drawn eight of their 12 home league matches, and lost five of their 12 aways. Liverpool’s defensive goal record this season is admirable, only City can better them and these two clubs are the only teams in the Premier League who have conceded less than one goal per game so far. Liverpool’s problem has been in the lack of goals they have scored this term. Liverpool have failed to score a single goal in exactly one third of their 24 games to date.
United have only failed to score in one match out of 24 this season, their 3-0 away defeat to Newcastle last month, and have scored 59 goals compared to Liverpool’s 28 goal tally. Five places separate these two in the league, but United have scored more than twice as many goals.
On Sunday, United demonstrated their never say die determination that they have seemed to possess for as many years as I have been watching football, coming back from 3-0 down against Chelsea in the second half to score three and scrape a point, one point that may prove invaluable come the end of the season. On Monday night, Liverpool failed to score again, at home to high flying Tottenham, how pleased we all are that ‘arry is a free man, we may be needing him to manage our National side.
Whatever happens on Saturday, I hope that it is a great game of football and that the best team on the day win.
Phil Dowd will refrain from issuing too many cards in the first half but may have to get dealing in the second half.
Weekend Football prediction – Man United win, correct score 3-1
Best odds for the home win, are currently 1.90 with Victor Chandler and for the correct score of 3-1 the best odds are 19.00 with Bet365
Laith Amiry, weekendfootball