By Christopher Boulay
Liverpool’s form showed some promise during the last several games, but there hasn’t been as big of a test as the road ahead. First up, Brendan Rodgers’ squad heads to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.The club experienced positive results over the holiday period, with wins over Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland and Fulham in the league, as well as the side’s most recent win against Mansfield Town in the League Cup. With only one loss in the last three weeks, it is almost the best run of form the Reds could hope for coming into the derby.
For how well Liverpool has played recently, Manchester United’s form is more impressive. The club hasn’t lost in the league since mid-November, and won eight of the last nine in league play. Manager Alex Ferguson will have his squad healthier, so his extra options could be bad news for Liverpool. However, the club will be without forward Wayne Rooney, who is likely not back until the FA Cup replay against West Ham. Despite this, United has some much-needed reinforcements coming back into the fray. Both Anderson and Nani will be available for selection, giving Ferguson an even deeper selection pool.
The Reds will be without defender Jose Enrique, so it is likely that Andre Wisdom will reprise his role in the back, with Glen Johnson partnering him on the other wing. Both defender Martin Kelly and forward Fabio Borini are still out, though the Italian international is back in training.
Liverpool will be looking for revenge from the difficult 2-1 loss earlier in the season, where midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was sent-off and United forward Robin van Persie scored a late winner. The Reds haven’t beaten United at Old Trafford since 2009, and lost seven of the past eight visits.
A win for Liverpool would move it to seventh in the table, only six points off of Tottenham in first place. It would also prevent United from adding to its lead in first place. Currently, the Red Devils are seven points above Manchester City, with the latter set to face Arsenal later on Sunday.
If you are in the greater Boston area, you will be able to watch the match at The Phoenix Landing with LFC Boston. If not, you can watch it on Fox Soccer, with coverage starting at 0830 EST.
Manchester United v Liverpool
When: Sunday, January 13, 0830 EST/1330 GMT
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
Previous Premier League match: Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland, Wigan 0-4 Manchester United
League Position 2011-12: Liverpool 8th (31 points), Manchester United 1st (52 points)
Projected Manchester United Starting 11
GK: de Gea
DEF: Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans
MID: Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa
FW: Valencia, van Persie, Young
Subs from: Lindegaard, Smalling, Vidic, Buttner, Anderson, Nani, Giggs, Fletcher, Scholes, Welbeck, Hernandez
Projected Liverpool Starting 11
DEF: Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Wisdom
MID: Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey
FW: Sterling, Suarez, Downing
Subs from: Jones, Flanagan, Coates, Carragher, Robinson, Henderson, Morgan, Allen, Yesil, Suso, Sturridge
Interact: What’s your projected lineup and final score prediction? Comment below.