Liverpool and Manchester United go into this season on a differing angle. While Brendan Rodgers is consolidating the project that he started the previous year, David Moyes is filling the shoes of Sir Alex Ferguson after 26 years in the Old Trafford.
Liverpool have acquired the services of players like Iago Aspas who fits in perfectly to Rodgers philosophy while giving Liverpool's relentless possession a purpose together with Kolo Toure who would ensure the physical power, leadership and peace of mind at the back.
Furthermore this year should see the consolidation of Coutinho and Sturridge in this setup. We have also witnessed the sales of Downing and Carroll to West Ham, managed by Sam Allardyce, which is a clear indication of the type of football that Rodgers is aiming to imprint into his players.
Manchester United have added Guillermo Varela and Wilfried Zaha to their ranks so far, but their manager seems to still be in the hunt for that elusive central midfielder. One shall not forget however that United won the league with points to spare virtually without any of their wingers shining and Wayne Rooney having an average season.
Against Chelsea we have seen what might indicate a resurgence of Antonio Valencia on the right wing. Where this to be the case it would be like adding Valencia as a new player together with Ashley Young coming back from injury and Rooney being able to produce a Chelsea-like performance day in day out.
Probably Liverpool will line up with Mignolet between the posts, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique at the back, Gerrard and Lucas protecting the defence with Coutinho on the left, Aspas behind Sturridge and Henderson on the right in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
United will have De Gea in goal, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra as their back four, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverly and Welbeck in midfield, Rooney in the hole and Van Persie up front.
So far Liverpool shown they can keep the ball and that Coutinho, Aspas and Sturridge can move and pass the ball in the final third, as stated beforehand, with more purpose. These three have shown they can move and create chances from between the lines. Now United have shown two different faces in this regard. Against Swansea Michu and Nathan Dyer where getting between the lines with great effect however Chelsea's Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne and Schurrle did not find any space there mainly because of the likes of Valencia and Phil Jones physically overpowering the small technical players of Chelsea.
This may suggest that the United defence still finds it difficult against big strikers like they did in the past years against Demba Ba and Maroune Fellaini when deployed forward, however they can deal quite easily with small players. Now Liverpool's three main men would have to fall in the last category and provided Valencia can drop inside to help his midfielde team-mates I can see Coutinho and Aspas having a difficult afternoon.
Furthermore Liverpool, despite having Sturridge scoring seven goals in the last eight games, have been extremely wasteful in front of goal, especially against Stoke. In all probability against United, especially if they close the spaces as mentioned above, Liverpool will not have as many chances and thus would have to be more prolific in front of goal.
Manchester United on the other hand have shown that in Van Persie they have a striker who can score even without having a clear chance. It is true that he was kept at bay against Chelsea, but it took an amazing performance by John Terry in order to achieve that. Now Liverpool have lost Toure from the back, and will have to rely on Skrtel to fill his boots. Furthermore they will have to deal with a rejuvenated Rooney who will be picking up the spaces that Rodgers' men will dare to leave unguarded.
It would also be interesting to see to what extent will Enrique be overlapping when confronted with Valencia and Rooney, as we have seen Ashley Cole basically refraining from overlapping at all last Monday. What will be the effect of his overlaps and who when Rooney will pick up the empty flank space and combine with Valencia, who will be covering? Will that mean taking a couple of eyes off Van Persie?
If Liverpool are to take something from this game they have to put away their chances. We have seen United keeping Chelsea away from their box, virtually for 90 minutes. Arguably they will not be playing as deep as Chelsea, but to what price?
Moyes is coming on the back of 'winning' a tactical battle against Jose` Mourinho where he showed that he can play more than being reactive as he was accused to be when managing Everton. His team has shown that they can deal with technical players in the hole and have an enviable duo playing upfront.
Manchester United should have enough to come away with the three points from this game, however as the entrance sign suggests, "THIS IS ANFIELD" and one can bet that Liverpool will not lie down and take it on their chin.
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