Beating the mighty Manchester
However, the upcoming meeting between these two giants of English football will be the first time that Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish go head to head since the Red Devils secured that all-important 19th title last season. United fans, currently buoyed by their superb start to the campaign, will undoubtedly remind the hosts of this fact – but Liverpool are in reasonably good form themselves and will be looking to end their opponents’ unbeaten status.
Not only do Liverpool have the advantage of being at home, but Dalglish also has a fully-fit set of players to choose from ahead of this crucial clash. Defenders Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Martin Kelly and Fabio Aurelio are all now fit and raring to go, with the former two most likely to start the game should they remain in good shape. In contrast, United will not have all their defensive options available, something the home side will be looking to gain from.
However, for Liverpool, having to pick from a full-strength squad can bring up its own small problems. Dalglish undoubtedly faces a selection headache and it will be extremely interesting to see who the Scot will select both in the middle of the park and up-front this weekend. Where exactly does skipper Steven Gerrard fit into the system? Should energetic Dutchman Dirk Kuyt, who scored a memorable hat-trick against the Red Devils last season, keep his place in the first XI despite missing a penalty at Everton? Does £35m target man Andy Carroll deserve to start? Would Craig Bellamy provide a greater test for the opposition full-back than Stewart Downing? These are all questions that the Reds boss will be asking himself ahead of what is likely to be a fiercely-contested derby.
But Dalglish is unlikely to be complaining about having so much strength in depth at his disposal, particularly when you consider that Liverpool were reportedly on the brink of administration just a year ago. Much has changed both on and off the field since last season, and the credit for this will go to owner John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group, who have transformed the atmosphere around the club since rescuing it from the deeply unpopular American duo of George Gillett and Tom Hicks.
Speaking about the impact of the new owners, Dalglish said: “The greatest compliment I can pay to them is that they’re as good as the people who ran the club the first time I was here. That’s a hell of a statement because the people who ran the club then, Sir John Smith and Peter Robinson, were two of the best any football club could ever have had.”
Dalglish added: “We wish them a happy birthday and if we can get a win to put the icing on the cake then fine, we’ll be happy with that.”
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Liverpool v Man Utd