12th January 2013
Liverpool may be trailing their arch rivals by 21 points, but that is unlikely to make the biggest derby of English football any less interesting. The Reds will attempt to put a dent into United’s title bid and record their fourth victory on the bounce, but it is the Old Trafford outfit that have got to be considered favourites here.
The impressive run during the crucial stage of the season is likely to help United win back the Premier League title, but they cannot afford to relax just yet despite the seven-point advantage. Many were quick to criticize Sir Alex Ferguson when he decided to splash €25 million on a 29-year-old whose contract was running out, but now everyone agrees that Robin van Persie is the main reason why United are in the driving seat at the moment. In all fairness, Javier Hernandez has been pretty impressive as well, scoring 8 goals in less than 600 minutes of football, with the Mexican coming in handy now that Wayne Rooney is sidelined through injury. While notching up several excellent results in the Premier League, United were on the verge of dropping out from the second domestic Cup competition, but Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie made sure nothing spoiled the good atmosphere in the squad ahead of the Liverpool match. Sir Alex Ferguson has received some more good news as Nani and Anderson have resumed full training, but the two midfielders will have to settle for a place on the bench.
Even if many believed Brendan Rodgers would sort out Liverpool’s problems with a magic wand, the reality was the former Swansea boss largely struggled to grind out decent results at the start of his reign at Anfield. However, the Reds kept raising their form as the season unfolded and we can now safely say they go into the United match high on confidence. While defeats to Aston Villa and Stoke were certainly disappointing, Liverpool have now won seven of their last nine matches in all competitions, and even managed to avoid a potential shock in the FA Cup against Mansfield. New signing Daniel Sturridge needed just seven minutes to score on his debut, and he looks set to partner Luis Suarez in attack at Old Trafford. The back line will be weakened by the absence of Jose Enrique, especially as Andre Wisdom is likely to be given the task of marking Ashley Young.
With Liverpool on top of their game at the moment and Daniel Sturridge set to take some weight off Luis Suarez’s shoulders, we should see an entertaining encounter at Old Trafford, but I still don’t think Liverpool can get something from this game. United have been pretty ruthless during the last few weeks, and with Van Persie and Chicharito scoring goals for fun, they should be able to see off their rivals even without Wayne Rooney.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 19/20
Bookmaker: William Hill