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Monday, October 10, 2011
Liver n'Onions: History happens twice a year
The Liverpool vs. Manchester United rivalry is the most important in English Football.
Located a mere 42 miles away the two great footballing cities of Manchester and Liverpool rely, and since the 1950's into the 60's when both teams started seeing up-ward success, the rivalry intensified. Know as the North-West Derby, these two footballing juggernauts battle on the day the resulting ramifications carry further, reverberating into talk of the most successful club in England.
Liverpool is regarded as the most successful of the English clubs, a moniker that seems to be out dated with Manchester United surpassing their League title record of 18. Between the two clubs they have won the league 37 times, United with 19 and Liverpool with 18. Looking at both clubs United has enjoyed more success of late having won the League last year and reaching the Champions League final, while Liverpool struggled to break into the top five, settling into sixth when all was said and done. As Liverpool endures a re- building process under manager Kenny Dalgleish, Manchester United has arguably the best Manager of all time Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm, constantly evolving his team of experienced talent and promising youth. The two fabled Scots will have their own private head to head come lunch time on Saturday, and as the Liverpool players walk under the "This is Anfield," sign, and line-up beside United in the tunnel, King Kenny will know full well that their home record is one to stand by. In the all time results of Liverpool vs. United at Anfield it stands thirty-eight wins to Liverpool, twenty-two defeats and 18 Draws.
With this said and taking into account recent success, United should still be assumed favorites, even though playing away from home. But in this edition of the so-called North-West Derby I see a potential banana skin for the Red Devils, as defensive frailties could play out as an Achilles heal against the tricky attack play of Luis Suarez. Need I reminded those United fans reading of the one known as " El Pistolero," cutting up your defense, megging Raphael then evading Michael Carrick and Wes Brown, only to poke it through Edwin van der Sar's legs to Dirk Kuyt who buried it in the net. Deadly skill, that if given the time and space will leave United seeing the gun-fighter shooting his pistols into the air. The corresponding fixture took place on March 6, of last year and ended 3-1 with a Dirk Kuyt hat-trick.
The history and the win record will all be forgotten when the two teams step out on the field letting the passionate atmosphere take hold. Both sides know what to expect, but with the added twist of new signings yet to participate in such a derby. First team coach of Liverpool, Steve Clarke has insisted that preparations will be as usual even thought much of the Liverpool squad will be returning from International duty in South America only a day prior to the match.
"Hopefully we'll have time on Friday to do a bit of team play and get them ready for the game, but it's a difficult situation. You just hope you get players coming back fit and well and you work on them mentally to make sure they're ready for such a big game." Clarke told Liverpoolfc.tv
Touching on the Reds abroad, Luis Suarez continued his scoring form taking only three minutes to net in Uruguay's 4-2 win over Bolivia in Montevideo.
Stewart Downing got a half an hour runaround in England's 2-2 draw with Montenegro, securing their ticket to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012.
Dirk Kuyt went the full 90 for Holland in their 1-0 win over Moldova to secure top spot in Group E.
When the talent of Liverpool returns to Melwood in preparation for the mammoth clash with United, much shall be discussed on how to approach the match, and the Reds will surly be boosted by the knowledge that Nemanja Vidic will not be fit for the match as he is still out with a calf muscle strain. Injury worries for Liverpool come in the shape of Daniel Agger out with a rib injury, due back later this month not in time for this showdown. So expect to see Skrtel and Carragher anchoring the back line, seeing a possible rejuvenation in the shape of Glen Johnson. Suffering this season with a bum hamstring Johnson is due back on the 12th of October, just in time for United, but the question still remains on whether Kenny uses him instead of the ever- improving Martin Kelly.
My projected line-up (4-4-2):
Kelly Carragher Skrtel Enrique
Kuyt Lucas Gerrard Downing
After Andy Carroll's goal against Everton it would be a mistake to leave the towering forward out, in which playing him hopefully adds fuel to the fire and a statement of "go on lad show us what your made of." With United possibly playing with the young center back pairing of Jones and Smalling or Evans, Carroll could prove a proper nuisance. With this said Dirk Kuyt gets pushed out to the wing and is chosen over Jordan Henderson who you could expect to see come on as a substitute later in the game.
Charlie Adam is the one left feeling the pain of fellow countrymen William Wallace, as his position in the starting XI is sacrificed for Steven Gerrard. In a game of this magnitude you need players with Gerrard's experience, and after another week of R&R for the Liverpool captain expect to see him fit and ready to lead his squad out onto the Anfield pitch.