Manchester United v Liverpool: 3 key battles

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Football News

Manchester United face Liverpool this weekend in a match that Gary Neville billed as "the Dog and Duck versus The Red Lion".

Both sides have struggled this season, despite some poor performances United have won five games in a row and sit third in the table. Liverpool meanwhile are struggling in ninth, seven points adrift of their rivals.

With that in mind we look at where the game could be won or lost for both sides on Sunday.

Robin van Persie v Martin Skrtel

The Dutchman has finally rediscovered his goal scoring touch, with his place at risk from the return of Radamel Falcao he fired a brilliant shot into the top corner as United demolished Hull 3-0.

On Monday evening Van Persie made it three goals in as many games, United only had three shots on goal but he pounced on two chances against Southampton to give United a narrow, and undeserved, win at St Mary's.

The 31-year-old will no doubt be more potent up front with the return of Angel di Maria.

Skrtel has finally rediscovered some form at Anfield and looks the sturdier centre back next to Dejan Lovren who is struggling to impress after his £20 million move from Saints.

Raheem Sterling v Antonio Valencia

Without a doubt Sterling has been Liverpool's star player this season, although arguably that's not saying much. Without Sterling liverpool would more than likely be in the bottom half of the table, the youngster has managed three goals and four assists in the league so far, more than any other Liverpool player.

The 20-year-old has also contributed the most key passes and dribbles at Liverpool and he will no doubt be keeping Antonio Valencia busy on Sunday afternoon.

With Rafael injured the Ecuadorian has been filling in but he rarely looks comfortable in the right back position which could be an area for liverpool to exploit.

Lucas Leiva v Juan Mata

The Brazilian midfielder has managed to play his way back into Brendan Rodgers team, Steven Gerrard, being used in a deeper role last season, had pushed the defensive midfielder out of the starting line up.

Juan Mata, meanwhile, is more than capable of giving the best players a run for their money - and Sunday will be no different.

United's January signing has four goals and one assist this season and will be providing plenty of chances for Van Persie to continue his fine form.

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