Liverpool desperately wants to regain its place as one of the big boys in the Premier League. They will have every opportunity to do so this Saturday when they host league champion and current leader, Manchester United. Last year’s fixture saw Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt net a hat trick as the Anfield side won resoundingly 3-1. Sir Alex Ferguson displayed his disappointment by controversially refusing to speak to the media post-match.
Certainly he will be feeling a need to speak with his team before this game, and one player in particular who he will be advising is Wayne Rooney. The Rooney name seems to have taken a tumble in the past week as Wayne’s father and uncle were arrested in an alleged betting ring in Scotland. Young Wayne further tarnished his already questionable reputation with a rash challenge that resulted in a red card while playing for the England national team. He will now miss the first three matches in next summer’s EURO 2012 tournament. How he responds on Saturday will show everyone a lot about his character. Rooney grew up in the Everton youth camps, and this should provide some extra motivation to punish the rival of his childhood club.
On the Liverpool side of the affair there is more optimism and hope due to the return of long time absentee, Steven Gerrard. The hero of Istanbul is set to make his first start in six months and his debut could not come in a greater match. Liverpool are lurking in the table at 5th place, six points off the top. With a victory, the early season title race will get a bit more crowded and Liverpool may start some rumblings about a surprise bid for the crown.
In all likelihood, this match will come too soon for Gerrard to make too much of an impact. Expect his form to be not quite match ready due to his long spell off and for him to substituted by the 60th minute. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they do not really have a choice. They must play their captain and hope he can hop right in.
Manchester United have been impeccable this year against the top clubs, comfortably beating Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. But all those games were played in Old Trafford with the vibrant home support. Now they must travel to the daunting castle of Anfield, where their past demons may rekindle a flame. Liverpool has been decent this year, and is currently working to create cohesion between their new players. Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll should be thrilled to finally get some assistance from Liverpool’s true star player, and look for Liverpool and Manchester United to battle it out to a hard fought 1-1 draw.