Ready for lift off!

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FOOTBALL - SHEBBY SINGH foot­ball@thes­

His­tory will re­peat it­self again at An­field this satur­day. Liver­pool will once again de­feat Manch­ester United. ri­valry is an un­der­state­ment when you are talk­ing about these two teams. it is se­ri­ous enough for me to call it what it is: War.

this game for me, epit­o­mises the fa­mous quote from le­gendary Liver­pool man­ager Bill shankly, “Foot­ball, is not a mat­ter of life and death, it is more im­por­tant than that.” in terms of im­por­tance, i think this match will be more cru­cial for the home team. Hav­ing al­ready lost two matches this sea­son, they can­not af­ford to give out any more points if they still want to be in the run­ning for the top four spots.

truth be told, they are still some way off from be­ing cham­pi­ons of the league. six points sep­a­rate Liver­pool (5th place, 13pts) from league lead­ers Man United (19pts). yes, the num­ber “19” is a sen­si­tively sore topic at An­field.

How­ever, aided by tal­ented play­ers like Luis suarez and steven Ger­rard, the fo­cus at Liver­pool now is solely on im­prov­ing with each game. Noth­ing too fan­ci­ful, please. the top four spots are def­i­nitely still within reach.

one player can make a world of a dif­fer­ence and suarez is that kind of a player. How he danced his way in the red Devils box and was a con­stant pest the last time both teams met at An­field in March.

steven Ger­rard should also start this game, hav­ing re­cov­ered his full fit­ness. Kenny Dal­glish would def­i­nitely be a fool if he leaves Ger­rard on the bench, with this match be­ing hailed as ‘match of the sea­son’ and with the red Devils be­ing un­beaten so far.

it will be in­ter­est­ing though to see what kind of mind­set Wayne rooney has in light of his trou­ble in the Eng­land team and the al­le­ga­tions against his fam­ily. i thought he would be way above that, but he crum­bled un­der pres­sure and got sent off when he was play­ing for Eng­land.

As the top striker for United, his mind­set def­i­nitely af­fects the whole team. He might be Eng­land’s prob­lem right now, but to­mor­row, he could be Man United’s match­win­ner. sir Alex Ferguson has come to rooney’s de­fence, even stat­ing that his “fiery tem­per” isn’t a bad thing.

Ferguson, as a man­ager of vast ex­pe­ri­ence, will adopt the fa­therly ap­proach. He needs his best player to have a cool head at An­field and put his team right – United have yet to pick Man United have yet to win at an­field since dec 2007 and Luis Suarez might just keep them wait­ing longer. up any points at An­field since Dec 2007 (Car­los tevez with a scrappy win­ner).

on the field, there are cer­tain weak­nesses in both teams that can be ex­ploited and this game will surely be an in­ter­est­ing tac­ti­cal bat-bat­tle.

As far as back­lines go, both teams have is­sues to sort out. Man United’s de­fence will not be able to keep out suarez, while Liver­pool’s de­fence is creak­ing with age. How many times can Jamie Car­ragher rough up an op­po­nent be­fore he gives away an­other penalty? Nani should re­mem­ber Car­ragher well enough. All said, there is a lack of pace in Liver­pool’s de­fence which, i feel, can be ex­ploited by Javier Her­nan­dez.

Although Man United’s de­fence has not been pun­ished by op­po­nents in the Pre­mier­ship (re­mem­ber Nor­wich or Fer­nando tor­res’ com­edy miss?), it will be a very dif­fer­ent case if they are go­ing to give away chances to Liver­pool, who can surely cap­i­talise on them.

in what surely will be a stormy af­fair, ex­pe­ri­enced ref­eree An­dre Mar­riner will also an­other cru­cial fac­tor to this game – didn’t he give Ne­manja Vidic the red card (two book­able of­fences) when Liver­pool beat Man United at An­field in 2009?

As with any game in­volv­ing Daglish and Ferguson, the mind games should also be en­ter­tain­ing.

Per­son­ally, i do think that the Mighty reds have more ex­pe­ri­ence as com­pared to the red Devils, and they will be in­spired by the home crowd (Liver­pool’s 12th man), who will ac­cept noth­ing less than a win.

Com­ing into the game be­tween the two English giants, there are no ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages and ev­ery match starts on a level foot­ing.

top teams strive un­der pres­sure, so this will be a good op­por­tu­nity for both teams to show off their true po­ten­tial. We will def­i­nitely see goals for both teams, with­out a doubt. n Catch Shebby Singh on Mon­day Night Ver­dict ev­ery Mon­day at 8pm on ESPN, and his in­sight and views dur­ing ESPN’s live match pre­sen­ta­tion of the Bar­clays Premier League

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