September 18th 2010
The mere fact that both Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson fielded second string sides in midweek proves their focus is solely on this match, which is by no means a surprise seeing this is arguably the biggest derby in the Premiership. United are in much better position at the moment but we all know current form plays no part in these kinds of games, and the fans are guaranteed to see a very tight clash between fierce rivals.
Rarely do we see United struggle at the start of the season but three slip-ups in five games are the perfect sign of a slow start. While Ferguson’s men have been extremely convincing in home games, recording 3:0 wins over Newcastle and West Ham, they allowed themselves to drop four points on the travels despite leading twice against Fulham and squandering a two-goal lead at Goodison Park. The second string side also failed to beat Rangers in the Champions League opener and the under-par performances are something that Sir Alex Ferguson will not tolerate any more. The hosts will be hoping the rest will give the players that skipped the Rangers game an extra edge in this highly anticipated match, especially with Rio Ferdinand set for his first Premiership start this term, but this time, without the captain’s armband. Nevertheless, Carrick, Hargreaves, Valencia and Anderson remain sidelined.
Roy Hodgson is still getting to grips with the demands of the new job but with no time to waste, the boss desperately need a big win to kick-start Liverpool’s season. The Reds have had a slow start to the season and they are already seven points behind leaders Chelsea, so the failure to win at Old Trafford could mean the farewell to their title ambitions. The fringe players have shown some potential in the Europa League game against Steaua, but it is Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Fernando Torres that need to step up the plate if Liverpool are to have a successful season, and not players like Spearing or Kelly. After resting most of the starters in midweek, Roy Hodgson, too, will have the courtesy of choosing from fully fit squad, with the exception of Kuyt and Aurelio. Joe Cole returns into action after serving a three-match ban and that should serve as an extra boost for the Reds.
Neither team can be satisfied with how they have started the season and needless to say the victory over the biggest rival can kick-start their season, so we can expect somewhat attacking approach from both managers. Nonetheless, seeing that these games are usually very tight affairs and that both United and Liverpool look far from impressive at the moment, the teams could easily end up canceling each other out.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 11/4
Bookmaker: Victor Chandler
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