Manchester United played well in their victory over Tottenham last Sunday but they remain a work in progress. An in-form Liverpool side will give Louis van Gaal’s team a stern test at Anfield this weekend, says United fan Max Liu…
Liverpool v Manchester United
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A week is a long time at Old Trafford. Last Monday, after Manchester United crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Arsenal, Reds fans were in the doldrums, there was talk of big name players leaving in the summer and even speculation that Louis van Gaal might go too. Now, following Sunday’s impressive 3-0 over Tottenham, fans are upbeat and commentators reckon Van Gaal’s team are starting to click. If United win against Liverpool this Sunday, they’ll be on the way to securing their return to the Champions League. If they lose, and Liverpool leapfrog them into fourth place, questions will again be asked about Van Gaal’s management.
Against Spurs, United played with a level of fluency we’ve rarely seen this season (at home to QPR, Newcastle and, arguably, Liverpool, are the examples which spring to mind). Michael Carrick was imperious, Daley Blind had one of his best games when he switched to left-back and Marouane Fellaini demonstrated why he’s become one of the Reds’ key performers.
In his first start for nearly two months, though, Juan Mata was the best of the bunch. With his incisive passing and quick thinking, he reminded Van Gaal of his talents. I’d pick Mata every time, and so would many fans, because he brings quality to an average team, helps United retain possession and scores goals (11 since joining in January 2014). In two poor teams, under David Moyes then Van Gaal, Mata has made an impressive start to his United career and deserves to play more.
Mata scored when United beat Liverpool 3-0 in December but he may well start on the bench at Anfield as Angel Di Maria returns from suspension. I expect Van Gaal to pack his midfield, with the more combative Ander Herrera, Carrick and Blind in the middle, Di Maria and Ashley Young out wide with Wayne Rooney up top alone. The United captain delivered a rallying speech to his team-mates on the eve of the Spurs game and we could do with another this week.
Liverpool are enjoying their best run of the season and are unbeaten in the league since the 3-0 at Old Trafford. They’ve only conceded two goals in their last seven matches in all competitions but only averaged just over one goal per game in the same period. This Sunday’s match should be less open than the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford, when United were in the middle of a winning run and Liverpool were struggling. I’ll back under 2.5 goals at 1.9620/21.
Brendan Rodgers’ team fought hard for their 1-0 win over Swansea on Monday night but it was their sixth consecutive league victory. As they sit two points behind United in fifth place, Liverpool need to win this more than the visitors and I suspect Van Gaal would be happy with the draw. I certainly would be and I’ll back it at 3.55/2.
Liverpool are likely to press forward early, as they did in their recent 2-1 win over Manchester City, which might leave them exposed. Di Maria’s sending off against Arsenal belied the fact that, until he pushed the ref, the Argentinian had given his best performance for some time. If Liverpool are going all out to win then United might hit them on the break, in which case Di Maria’s pace will be an asset. Let’s back both teams to score at 1.768/11.
Back the Draw @ 3.55/2
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.9620/21
Back Yes in Both Teams to Score? @ 1.768/11
*You’ve read the View from Old Trafford, now read the View from Anfield presented to you by Liverpool fan Paul Robinson