The bitterest of clashes is back
One of the Premier League’s most famous rivalries is rekindled today when Manchester United face Liverpool at Anfield, while Arsenal take on Stoke City.
For the Red Devils, the constant accusations that their football has been “boring” this season will have hurt almost as much as the two dropped points in the 3-3 draw with Newcastle United on Tuesday.
That stalemate with the Magpies followed a 2-1 success over Swansea that was their first win in seven games, so it’s back to the drawing board for manager Louis van Gaal.
Liverpool have been far from consistent with their performances and results this campaign, but they have shown a knack for beating the teams above them in the standings, with recent wins over Manchester City and Leicester City coming to mind, while Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal showed they’re up for a good fight.
However, the head-to-head record does not favour the hosts, as Liverpool were beaten home and away by United last season before losing 3-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the current campaign. That being said, the Reds have homeground advantage, which could be a useful factor in such a traditionally hot-blooded encounter.
On the injury front, United will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Phil Jones (ankle), Antonio Valencia (ankle), Marcos Rojo (dislocated shoulder) and Luke Shaw (broken leg).
For Liverpool, the injury problems are still piling up, with Jordon Ibe, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Škrtel and Daniel Sturridge all out with hamstring injuries, but defender Dejan Lovren (hamstring) could be available.
Also today, Arsenal will face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium knowing they need a win to keep ahead of Leicester City in the title race, with Manchester lurking within easy reach of the league leaders.
Their stalemate with Liverpool saw the Gunners drop points, and while they would have been disappointed to let three goals through, the good news is that they’re still lethal at the other end of the pitch, while five wins from their last seven is hardly bad form. The Potters, meanwhile, are an almost perfect analogy for the unpredictability of this Premier League season, with wins over Manchester United and Everton followed by defeat to West Brom, before a 3-1 victory over Norwich on Wednesday got them back to winning ways.
Arsenal will make the trip north without injured stars Santi Cazorla (knee), Jack Wilshere (calf), Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Danny Welbeck (knee). The good news is that Alexis Sánchez could be set to make his much-anticipated return from the knee injury that has kept him off the pitch since November, but Arsène Wenger says he will be “cautious” with the Chilean, who will undergo a late fitness test.
For Stoke, Geoff Cameron and Stephen Ireland are slight doubts, with Marc Muniesa rated as less likely to be fit in time for the match, while veteran goalkeeper Shay Given is still a couple of weeks away from his return.
– TEAMtalk media
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