Date:Saturday March 3 2007
United will take on Liverpool today at Anfield in what could be a decisive game. We have only one option: to attack.
Facing the scousers always quickens Mancunian blood but there's so much at stake now for United that the tension is almost unbearable for the average supporter. The average, of course, is produced as a summary of my own personality and I'm deeply worried ahead of all these clashes.
Losing is not an option now. We were beaten home and away by Arsenal and that was painful enough, a defeat at Anfield would be a hammer blow. It could blow away our title aspirations, too: if we fail at every serious hurdle presented to us, it will be Mourinho who celebrates at the end.
But to be honest, I can't see us winning this. Whatever Fergie might say later in this article, I don't think he'll have the courage to attack Liverpool and if we play for a draw we can be doomed. Of course, it can actually result in a draw, like it did in the last league meeting at Anfield but that was one of the worst games I ever saw and I wouldn't want to suffer another one like that. And there's the chance that Liverpool would somehow take the lead then kill the game as they always do.
All in all I would sign a draw right now if a contract about it was presented to me.
So, back to Fergie. He would be certainly satisfied with a share of the spoils I believe but promised a United team full of attacking intent.
'When we attack we are a better team,' he said. 'When we try to defend leads and things like that we are not as good because our instinct is to be an attacking team. I don't want us to change.'
Wonderful words to hear for any United fans but can we take them seriously? He stressed time and again that attacking the only way for us and yet tended to opt for defending against the more formidable teams. With a 9 point lead, with Chelsea due to visit Pompey later on a day in a very awkward fixture and with Liverpool facing Barcelona on Tuesday in probably the most important game of their season, we should risk to attack them. Benitez himself admitted that their attention could be dangerously split and that could certainly be an advantage.
Liverpool's Spanish manager therefore doesn't think it's necessary to rest key player ahead of the crunch Champions League tie with Barcelona where they lead 2-1 on aggregate as physical fatigue is less a problem than a possible lack of mental focus against United, in a game where they really do not have anything to play for. Second place is beyond their grasp and it has no significance whatsoever whether a team finish in 3rd or 4th place. They will play for their pride and their only real aim will be to stop us and dent our title aspirations. But that can be a powerful force.
With Fletcher and Solskjaer out injured, the team wil certainly line up as follows:
Starting 11: van der Sar - Gary, Rio, Vidic, Evra - Ronaldo, Scholesy, Carrick, Giggs - Larsson, Rooney
Subs: Kuszczak, Park, Saha, O'Shea, Silvestre
Whether it will be Larsson or Saha who starts is unpredictable. I'd start with Saha but I think SAF will choose Larsson as he had done at Emirates. But it's only guesswork.
Match prediction: 1-1. Tense, physical but drab game as every recent clash between the two most successful teams of English football.
Date:Saturday March 3 2007
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