Match Preview – Liverpool vs. Manchester United 12.45pm KO

14 Oct

Always one of the biggest fixtures of the season this is arguably a bigger game for Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish to prove their top 4 credentials and his cohort of new signings.  After a great start to season which brought hope to the Kop that Liverpool were back as
genuine top 4 contenders the wheels came of slightly with the frustrating loss away to Stoke and the debacle that was the 4-0 loss away to Tottenham.  Since then Liverpool have won 3 games in a row albeit in an efficient rather than dazzling manor, however one or two questions have started to be asked over some of the summer signings.  But as they say a sign of a good team is one that win’s when they don’t play well.

Manchester United has had an excellent start to the season with new the new faces seemingly fitting in seamlessly.  The most impressive for me has been Ashley Young who has stepped up another level since joining United in the summer for what is surely a bargain at £16m.  Most encouragingly for United is the emergence of the youngsters with Cleverly, Welbeck, Smalling and Jones all
looking quality players and breaking into the full England squad this season.  However as is now well documented the biggest concern for Ferguson will be the number of shots they are allowing teams to have against them.  As recently exposed by FC Basil in the Champions League , Stoke and Norwich City, United have started to look less accomplished and dodgy in defence.

Key Area – Down the Channels

Liverpool look to have a fully fit squad going into the match with Steven Gerrard reportedly fit to start whether he will is another
matter.  The biggest issue for Dalglish this Saturday will be what formation and who to start in centre of the pitch.  Liverpool this season are not quite as dynamic as they were towards the end of last which is down to two things 1) the sale of Meireles to Chelsea 2) reverting back to a standard 4-4-2 formation.

As can be seen in the player influence Liverpool last season played much narrower through the middle of the park relying upon the full backs to create width.  This shape was a tactical mastermind by Dalglish which allowed Liverpool to move between 4-4-2,
3-4-3 or 5-4-1 at any time as a result Liverpool could overload all the key areas of the pitch.  This season Liverpool have played with out and out wingers as can be seen this leaves Liverpool vulnerable down the channels which is where United are at their strongest as seen against Chelsea.   Even though they are playing at home Liverpool cannot afford to leave these channels open for Young
and Nasri to exploit.  I would recommend that they revert back to the formation from last season with Gerrard alongside Lucas with Bellamy starting right allowing Kuyt and Suarez to play up front with Kuyt dropping in to midfield when required.

Head to Heads Suarez vs. Jones

A lot has been said about Jones since his big money transfer from Blackburn however if you actually analysis his performance closer, while seeminlgy excellent in the tackle and good ont he ball he is susceptible to being cuaght out of position as seen against FC Basil.  Suarez  likes to drop of the defence to collect the ballad and drift wide to attack from the wings and will be looking to drag Jones out of position with his clever movement for others to exploit. Having scored 3 goals in 3 games for club and country Suarez will be full of confidence.   If Jones loses his concetration against Suarez Liverpool will score through the spaces left.

Lucas vs. Anderson

The boys from Brazil are vital for both of their respective clubs.  As seen against Everton, Lucas starts most attacking moves by receiving the ball from the defence. When this supply was cut of Liverpool struggled to move the ball from defence to midfield resorting to obvious long balls into Carroll. If United can cut this ball to Lucas they will nullify Liverpool’s attack early on.  Anderson has had an excellent start to the season and has been their most influential player driving play through the middle.  As mentioned before United’s key area for attack is down the wings but it is the relationship between Anderson taking the ball of the Centre Backs and moving it wide to Young that is vital.  If Liverpool can cut this out it will allow Liverpool to commit either Kelly or Johnson to move wide allowing Kuyt or Bellamy to join the forwards or move in the middle to provide a numerical advantage.  Either way this battle in the  middle will decide for me who wins the game.

Summary

I think this game is going to be closer than previous years but can’t help feeling Liverpool will win this match.  While Liverpool haven’t been in sparkling form with Skrtel and Carragher in centre of defence Liverpool look more solid and with Gerrard poised for his first start since this fixture last season it might just give Liverpool the edge in the middle of the park.  However Young and Nani are excellent and will be the biggest threats.  If left to run they will win the game for United.  Let battle commence.

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One Response to “Match Preview – Liverpool vs. Manchester United 12.45pm KO”

  1. Anonymous October 21, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    21/10/11

    Tactical Review Steven Gerrard.

    Excellent analysis. Brilliant observation. Well written.

    Douglas Redman

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