On Sunday, March 16th, Manchester United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford. Liverpool have aspirations of winning the Premier League title, while United are hoping to make a serious push fofourth place to secure Champions League football next season.
Liverpool come into this fixture in good form of late. They are determined to continue their winning ways in pursuit of League leaders Chelsea.
United on the other hand, are not in scintillating form by any stretch, but did win 3-0 last weekend against West Brom. United can ill afford any more slip ups if they have any shot at fourth place come May.
United need to do a few things in this match-up if they are to get a vital three points. David Moyes must pick an attacking side; Liverpool’s weakness all year has been their back-line, so United must go right at them from the get go.
Another key for United is the play of Chris Smalling. He is expected to start at right back, a position that he does not look comfortable playing. He will need to get forward and provide some width on the right hand side, in order to allow space inside for Juan Mata to create. Mata will be on the right hand side but he loves to play centrally, so Smalling must make overlapping runs throughout the match.
United have not looked strong defensively all year, so going up against the likes of Sturridge and Suarez will be a test. United needs to keep the back line compact and try to limit the space for the two leading goal scorers in the EPL. The likes of Carrick and Fellaini also need to be active in defense and do a job in front of the back four if they have any hopes of winning.
The key player for United is Wayne Rooney. He will likely play in the “hole” just behind Van Persie. He needs to track back and defend but when United have possession, he needs to create quickly and expose Liverpool’s back four. In this match, Rooney needs to be the playmaker. Rooney’s passing skills are going to be vital if United are going to expose and counter attack Liverpool.
And if United are going to win this fixture, it is all going to come down to how clinical they are in the final third. United will get chances playing against Liverpool, but the key will be if they are able to convert them into goals. Robin Van Persie has not looked as sharp in front of goal, but he will be key in the box. He needs to be active and make runs to get in areas for the likes of Januzaj to whip crosses in.
Both sides need the three points for this match for different reasons. Liverpool come into this match as favorites, so with that comes pressure. United have nothing to lose and I expect them to go at Liverpool from the first whistle. Expect this game to be fast-paced and open at times. Both defenses have looked suspect all year so one would assume goals. The Red Devils will play well in this match and convert chances and sneak out a 2-1 win.