Liverpool v Manchester United
Sunday March 23rd 2008
1.30pm Old Trafford
Referee: Steven Bennett
Sunday sees the Reds take a trip along the M62 to face Manchester United hot on the back of a 7 game winning run. United sit on top of the league with 3 points seperating them from Arsenal who's poor run of form has seen them stutter and let United get the upper hand.
We go their high in confidence and personally speaking I'm confident we can get a result. Preferably 1-0 with Torres scoring the winner, robbing Fred the shithouse in the process (good move about backing out of your £100k Torres/Tevez bet).
Once again, we're joined by Marc and Phil to answer the questions and help us preview the game. Lets hope the game isn't as dull as previous meetings. Spyin' Kop: What do you make of your season so far?Marc:
So far, it's going well. We've managed to claw Arsenal back during their recent blip to the point that we're now in the driving seat in the league. The added favourites tag makes for a lot of nerves though and you have to wonder if that is too much weight on some very young shoulders. Last year was the first league win since 2003 and we have a lot of new personel since then, so the pressure wasn't on as much.
Now that we're in the position to retain a title, the pressure is that bit more. Players like Nani and Anderson are going to be key during the run in so we have to hope their first season sees them end strongly as both have been key in recent weeks with some of the old timers being off form. The FA Cup defeat was very disappointing as we played well, but we didn't take the chances and that's football.
The Champions League is less important than the league but our fans want to see us press on and show we're at the peak
of Europe as soon as possible and we have a fantastic chance this year.Phil:
Some great football, but too often hamstrung by the manager's inability to stop tinkering. 90% of United fans would agree on our best 11, but I'd be surprised if that team has played together more than half a dozen times this season.Spyin' Kop: Who have been your best players?Marc:
The whole back four have played well this year. Brown has slotted in fantastically at RB, the Vidic/Rio partnership is looking the best mixture of muscle and ball playing in the league (if not Europe) at present and Evra has been on fantastic form, defensively and in attack.
Carrick is looking the player he was at Spurs now, showing more confidence on the ball and has been the midfield heartbeat of the team in recent months. Then there's Ronaldo, who is surely going to pick up Player of the Season across the board.Phil:
Ronaldo, Evra, Ferdinand, Anderson.Spyin' Kop: Who have been your worst players?Marc:
At present, Giggs and Scholes look to be off the pace. Probably a mixture of age, injuries and not getting enough time on the pitch but football has no time for longing for the past, so they will have to accept lesser roles.Phil:
Fletcher, Giggs.Spyin' Kop: How are your summer signings looking. Any change from when we last talked in December?Marc:
Well, he wasn't a summer signing but I called Carrick our worst player back in early December in the last Spyin' Kop and now I'm saying he's one of the most in form. Hopefully that keeps up. Hargreaves has fallen back due to lack of games, he just can't stay fit. Worrying. Since December, Anderson has really stepped up to the plate, including this fixture in December where he gave more experienced players a very tough time. He looks to be very promising but is still figuring out his best position.Phil:
Nani needs more games, he's still diving and making wrong decisions with his final pass. Hargreaves just needs games, we've seen his quality. Tevez is a grafter, and has a knack of nicking important goals, but if the reported £45 million fee at the end of his loan is accurate then he can go, he's just not that good. Anderson gets better and better, still a lot to learn though, but the signs are very promising.Spyin' Kop: What did you make of the game at Anfield before Christmas?Marc:
The only thing that matters for this one is the result, which obviously went our way. It was a typically cagey game between the two with a bit of tension and a lack of real attacking flair. We contained Torres very well and that seemed to stiffled Liverpool a lot, but we also played Rooney quite deep which took a lot of our edge away. But yes, I was delighted when the whistle went.Phil:
Typical. Dour game, both teams afraid to lose, a draw would have been a fair result so I was ecstatic with the win.Spyin' Kop: Are you going to win the title this season?Marc:
The bookies say we probably will. I don't predict until the maths is much more favourable.Phil:
In my opinion we're the best team in the League, so we should win it. We're also capable of throwing away a seemingly winning position in true United style.Spyin' Kop: How do you like your chances in the European Cup this season?Marc:
The best in a long time but there are still so many quality teams left. Rafa has that knack of getting the job done in Europe, Barca have too much firepower to totally discount them, Chelsea and Arsenal are both excellent sides and Roma owe us one. All I'll say is that it's our best chance since '99.Phil:
I'll worry about the Cash Cup when the League Title is decided, if we're still in it.Spyin' Kop: What do you think of our season?Marc:
It annoys me that you've turned out a good run as I was hoping you wouldn't get fourth, but I think you've done enough to make sure of that. Everton are a good team but I don't think they'll sustain the challenge, unless they win the derby. You could still nick third place, too, but I think second is just too far away given how the teams in front of you would have to capitulate for that to happen. Arsenal possibly, but Chelsea's squad is better than yours and has better history with finishing leagues strongly of late.Phil:
Torres has been a revelation, but as ever your League campaign was over in January.Spyin' Kop: Any suggestions from an outsider to make towards where we're possibly going wrong?Marc:
I think you know that yourselves. Fullbacks, wingers, another striker and another creative midfielder wouldn't go astray. Maybe Alonso will flourish once more now that Mascherano will be handling the defensive duties, and that would be like a new signing for you.Phil:
Get rid of the Yanks. The Glazers will drive United into bankruptcy, it's only a matter of time. Get rid of Gillett and Hicks before they borrow hundreds of millions and load the debt onto your club. There's only one way these loans get paid, and that's from the fan's pockets. You have an advantage in that they have been seen at games, so keep making your feelings known, never let up, ever. Malcolm Glazer has never been to O.T., so we only ever got to have a go at his idiot sons. I despise your club, but I wish you all the luck in the world getting rid of your Yank scum, I wouldn't wish another Glazer fiasco on anyone, not even you lot.Spyin' Kop: Does Torres and Gerrard, clicking the way they have scare you, seeing as there's doubt about Rio Ferdinand's participation?Marc:
They're obviously the main threat. Torres is a very good player on a very good run of form. Combine the two, and you've got a real player. He hasn't been so prolific away from home this season, so hopefully that will come into play. Gerrard will surely have more freedom to roam than he had in December, so he'll have to be monitored closely or we could suffer from one of his 30 yard strikes before we know it.Phil:
Doesn't scare me at all, if Ferguson picks the right team we'll win the game.Spyin' Kop: And if Ferdinand is out (and also, is van der Sar back?), how do you expect to line up?Marc:
If Ferdinand is out, we'll probably shift Brown to CB and O'Shea or Hargreaves to RB, depending how he wants to handle the midfield. Hargreaves may be told to go and sit on Gerrard for 90 minutes, if he isn't in defence. Carrick and Anderson should start, they've been our best combination since December. Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney should start. He may go for Nani on the left, or maybe Fletcher and compact the midfield with Rooney drifting left. Guessing what Ferguson is going to do is an art in itself.Phil:
If Ferdinand is missing it'll be Brown and Vidic in the middle, obviously a much weaker pairing, so Anderson and Hargreaves will have to work harder to protect them.Spyin' Kop: Care to make a prediction for the game?Marc:
I'll be as cagey at this as I was in December. 1-0 either way, 0-0 or 1-1. That's what the form books suggest so I'll stick with that.Phil:
Heart says 2 - 1, head says 1 - 1.Spyin' Kop: Anything else to say?Marc:
You still wouldn't have won the league if you'd had Ronaldo, despite what I've read from some of you on RAWK.Phil:
I hope there's no mither off the pitch.