Sunday afternoon sees the renewal of what is arguably English football’s biggest rivalry as Manchester United take on Liverpool with the aim of claiming their sixth straight win.
Neither side is playing too well at present, but the difference is that United are getting the results. This was again in evidence at Southampton on Monday as they only had three shots in the game, but had a striker in clinical form as Robin van Persie netted a brace.
Manager Louis van Gaal seems to be regaining the Midas touch he seemed to possess at the World Cup, and he has lifted the Red Devils to third in the Premier League – impressive given the circumstances. And at eight points behind leaders Chelsea, they secretly will not be ruling out a title push.
Liverpool come into this still hurting after their bitterly disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of Basel, with a Steven Gerrard inspired late rally proving too little, too late and causing a mediocre season so far to sink to further depths.
They now seem barely a shadow of the side that played United off the park when last visiting Old Trafford in March. The confidence is gone, the dynamism is gone, and more than anything, the tempo to the Reds’ game has simply evaporated, so this would be a good time for all of that to be rediscovered.
Chris Smalling was injured at Southampton and will not feature for United here along with Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw, but Rafael da Silva and Phil Jones could return.
Much-maligned striker Mario Balotelli may feature for Liverpool for the first time since early November, while Kolo Toure should be fit despite a slight groin problem.
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