It might seem a bit early to be writing about a game that is still a few days away but this is no ordinary game and every England fan will be interested to see what happens next in the Wayne Rooney saga.
Those of you that are regular readers of this feature will know my opinion on Liverpool, for those that are new in these parts, here it is in a nutshell: Liverpool have the components of a good side and will have the beating of a lot of teams this season but I’m not sure the squad is fully cohesive right now and is still lacking squad depth and quality in certain areas, right midfield/wing being one of those areas.
Manchester United have defied their normal “slow starters” tag and, along with their city neighbours, have made the early running in this seasons Premiership, this is not always a good thing, as Chelsea showed last season, but in this case I think Man Utd have the basic elements of a title winning squad, skill, pace, togetherness and above all, a management team that has been there and done it time and time again.
The teams for this game are as yet unclear, Liverpool have several players who could line up in the right back slot out injured and none of them are guaranteed to be fit in time for this match. Of course no-one will want to miss this match, it’s rivalry goes back a long way, and Dalglish will want to put out as strong a side as possible in an effort to show his expensively assembled team can cope with the big boys.
Man Utd also have players who are seen as 50/50 for this match, some, like Tom Cleverley may find it’s a game too soon for them after having been out for some time, others like Smalling will be looking to get back into the side as quickly as possible and will be thankful for the international break that has given him a chance to recover without missing too many games.
Then there is the Rooney question, will Sir Alex Ferguson risk him, ignoring everything that is going on in his personal life right now, the backlash from his sending off last Friday will surely come and the Anfield crowd will not hold back (bookies in the Liverpool area may have a boom in business just so the fans have betting stubs to wave). In the past, Sir Alex has not been shy of holding back a player who is in the full glare of the media spotlight, his handling of Beckham and Giggs shows that he is not worried about leaving a player out if he thinks it is in the best interests of the player. This game is against Liverpool though and the United manager does not like losing to them in the slightest.
So, what do I think will happen? I’m going to eschew the safe option of opting for the draw here, I think United have the personnel to cope with Liverpool danger players and the weakness at right back will be Liverpool undoing, whether it’s Young or Nani running at them, chances will be made and Rooney will be up for this one, I fully expect him to score and I think United can keep a clean sheet so I’m going for an away win here.
Pop back later in the week when I’ll be updating this page with any bets that I think should not be missed, for now though, the odds of United winning away at Anfield look good enough for me to place a few quid on.