By Christopher Boulay
The international break is over, and the Premier League returns with a bang, as the Reds host Manchester United at Anfield.
United have failed to win in the past three trips west on the M62, but have as good of a chance as any this time around. Kenny Dalglish may have something to say about it, since he hasn’t lost at the Liverpool helm against the North West rivals at Anfield in five tries.
Steven Gerrard is likely to get the start, having the international break to improve his fitness level. Due to this, Charlie Adam may be relegated to riding the pine. With Craig Bellamy playing for Wales mid-week, it is probable he will be a substitute. Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll will lead the attack.
There are no injury concerns to speak of for Liverpool, as the back line should be 100 percent with Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger back. Dalglish will have all of his options available. Jamie Carragher has been a favorite of the manager so far this season, so Agger may not be able to crack the starting lineup.
Alex Ferguson will have a relatively healthy squad as well. Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Tom Cleverley may all return from injuries. The big question is how Wayne Rooney will respond in his first match since finding out he will miss the entire Euro 2012 group stage due to his red card against Montenegro.
Both Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Lucas Leiva could be a bit jet lagged, as they both returned to England late from International break. The rivalry received a bit of a preview when the two battled in Mexico for their respective nations. Liverpool received the early upper hand as Brazil pulled out a 2-1 victory.
If title hopes are not in the cards for this season, Liverpool certainly will be aiming to not only qualify for a Champions League spot, but also to knock United off of its perch, as the Manchester club looks toward making it a 20th league title – further separating itself from Liverpool’s former record of 18 First Division trophies.
United will be difficult, nonetheless. The Red Devils have only dropped points once this season, against Stoke, which played valiantly at the Britannia.
Both clubs won, 2-0, in their last league matches. Liverpool’s away win over Everton was arguably more impressive.
Liverpool v Manchester United
When: Saturday, October 15, 1245 BST/ 0745 ET
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 5th (13 points), Man United 1st (19 points)
Last Premier League Match: Everton 0-2 Liverpool, Man United 2-0 Norwich
Projected Manchester United Starting 11: (4-4-2)
GK: De Gea
DEF: Evra, Vidic, Evans, Smalling
MF: Park, Nani, Fletcher, Valencia
FW: Hernandez, Rooney
Bench: Kuszczak, Ferdinand, Anderson, Giggs, Cleverley, Welbeck, Owen
Projected Liverpool Starting 11: (4-4-2)
DEF: Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique
MF: Kuyt, Gerrard, Lucas, Downing
FW: Suarez, Carroll
Subs: Doni, Coates, Agger, Kelly, Adam, Henderson, Bellamy
Here’s a fan video if the derby’s excitement hasn’t reached top-level yet:
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