Manchester United - Liverpool v United - The Lowdown
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Liverpool v United - The Lowdown

As you probably know, the Liverpool v Manchester United clash is looming. Super Sunday or Grand Slam Sunday or whatever Sky has dubbed it, it's upon us so it's time to analyse the key match-ups all over the field.

It's never easy to pick a starting line-up and especially in Benitez's case it will be bloody difficult. However, I'll try to predict the starting elevens.

Liverpool: Reina - Arbeloa, Hyppia, Carragher, Riise - Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Kewell - Crouch, Torres.

It's almost their Marseille starting eleven, except that Crouch would come in for Kuyt - I predict this for the sake of a bit of rotation. Xabi Alonso is short of match fitness, Babel is better as a substitute it seems so for me, their midfield picks itself though it can be imagined that after starting two games in four days, Kewell will be benched. And a 4-5-1 can't be ruled out, with Sissoko drafted into midfield and Torres alone up front.

United: Van der Sar - Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra - Anderson, Hargreaves - Rooney, Giggs, Ronaldo - Tevez.

I think it's a relatively safe bet to say this will be our starting eleven. Hargreaves is fit, according to Fergie therefore he will start, the attacking quartet picks itself just as the defence.

So let's see those match-ups.

Benayoun v Evra: I think it's the most straightforward. Evra all the way, he's in the form of his life, possibly the best left-back in the world at the moment. I can't see an inconsistent Benayoun troubling him unduly but I might be wrong of course.

Kewell v Brown: If it was a 25-year-old Kewell, playing in his best form, I'd have to go for the Australian. But now I think they are evenly matched: Brown is having his best season for a while and very consistent. Kewell is in good form but he'll have a difficult task. Same goes for Babel who is a bit up and down, unpredictable. His pace could worry Brown though.

Torres v our centre-backs: That's the big one. I think it does not matter much if they play with two strikers or only Torres - it's the Spaniard we have to contain at all costs. He's Liverpool's only attacker who can claim to be in the Rooney-Tevez-Ronaldo category, his pace is exceptional, his technique is outstanding and has an eye for goal. Vidic and Rio will have a mammoth task - but if anyone, they, cornerstone's of the Prem's meanest defence, can stop him.

Anderson and Hargreaves v Gerrard and Mascherano: It all depends on Gerrard. If he's on song, our admirable partnership will be in real trouble. However, if his Hollywood passes go astray as they so often do... then Liverpool will have trouble in attack because Mascherano rarely makes meaningful forward passes and concedes possession too often. In that sense our midfielders are more of the all-rounder type. Will be very interesting.

Giggs/Rooney v Arbeloa: I think it will be Rooney if we opt for the 4-2-3-1 which usually sees Giggs playing in the hole behind the main striker. The Spanish right-back is enjoying a good season so far but will be under severe test, no matter which United player he faces. He did well against Rosicky earlier but now will have a more difficult job.

Ronaldo v Riise: No contest. Riise is past his peak though still a very good player while Ronaldo is firing on all cylinders. Clichy is much faster than Riise yet he lost Ronaldo on two occasions at the Emirates and the winger ended up with scoring one and setting up another. Hopefully he'll be up to the occasion again.

Tevez v Carragher and Hyypia: Well, it's clear that long balls won't be successful. However, neither of these two is particularly quick and they were often stretched against Arsenal so that's what we've got to do: make them run. Tevez's pace and mobility must be exploited. He was contained well by Toure and Gallas who are very quick for centre-backs but he could thrive between Hyypia and Carragher if he gets good service.

To conclude: on pure quality (especially if we look at who we can bring in from the bench) we should win this game, I firmly believe we have the better team and Ferguson so often got the better of Benitez. However, Liverpool's relief and joy over the 4-0 win at Marseille might cause problems if it liberates them and allows them to play as freely as they've rarely done under Benitez. Let's hope it won't happen and we record another Anfield victory.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 14 2007

Time: 6:31PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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you sort of nicked it last year I remember - feisty encounter this time for me!
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14/12/2007 19:39:00

I don't think it'll be Ronaldo vs Riise. It's more likely to be Ronaldo vs Arbeloa with Finnan on the opposite side. Don't forget, Arbeloa pocketed Messi.
Report Abuse
14/12/2007 19:54:00

i think tht man u might just nik it, because man u are a good team at the moment !
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14/12/2007 20:17:00

Finnan won't play Aamir, he's injured.
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14/12/2007 20:22:00

That's a shame. He was named on the bench for the Marseilles game (I think) so I thought he might play.
Report Abuse
14/12/2007 20:38:00

Anderson hargreaves vs gerrard mascherano looks good but yet again man utd look too strong !
Report Abuse
14/12/2007 20:45:00

man u will not nick it most probebly a draw and this comes from a liverpool fan
matt-liverpool 4 eva
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14/12/2007 21:51:00

I fink man-utd will win this game ! Coz our middfielders are 2 strong 4 there middfielders but we could end up with a draw! but i fink that we will scrape it !!!
Report Abuse
15/12/2007 15:37:00

"Coz our middfielders are 2 strong 4 there middfielders." Have to disagrre. it depends on who you count as your midfielders. In central mid, you don't have a chance in hell.
Report Abuse
15/12/2007 15:46:00

ronaldo, hargreaves, anderson, giggs vs benayoun, gerrard, mascherano, kewell...i know what one i'd rather have aamir!
Report Abuse
15/12/2007 18:22:00

Strictly speaking, Ronaldo isn't a midfielder. And our centre is miles better than yours. I know which one I'd have.
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15/12/2007 18:33:00

i disagree your cm pairing is better. fair enough gerrard is good, but mascherano is stunningly overrated. our first choice is obviosly hargreaves and scholes, but carrick and anderson are top quality, and stick fletcher and o'shea into the mix and we are much stronger in that area than you.
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15/12/2007 19:23:00

We've got the best midfield in the world. We've got Xabi Alonso, Momo Sissoko, Gerrard and Mascherano-ooooo-ooooo.
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15/12/2007 19:33:00

aamir mate, your deluded. if you honestly belive liverpool have the best midfield in the world your a fool. gerrard is world class, alonso and mascherano are alright (definately not world-beaters) but kewell, benayoun and sissoko are utter ****e.
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15/12/2007 20:55:00

Kewell, Benayoun and Sissoko are utter ****e? Mate, I'm afraid it is you who is deluded. By the way the best midfield post is a song we sing.
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15/12/2007 21:09:00

aamir you one crazy person if you think sissoko benayoun and kewell are world class
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15/12/2007 21:21:00

may liverpool win
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15/12/2007 21:31:00

Did I say they are?
Report Abuse
15/12/2007 22:27:00

Harry is world class and Momo is potentially world class.
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15/12/2007 22:28:00

No contest.Manchester United Win From The Off. Riise is past his peak though still a very good player while Ronaldo is firing on all cylinders. So Ronaldo Will Run Riiise Ragged 2daii.
Report Abuse
16/12/2007 10:05:00

Did you just copy exactly what the article said?
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16/12/2007 10:21:00

harry kewell world class? now i HAVE heared everything!
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16/12/2007 10:36:00

When fit, Harry Kewell would walk into most teams in the world whether you like it or not. That makes him world class.
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16/12/2007 11:20:00

Good article, unbiased and quite fair (Vital Chelsea take note) Should be a good game, can't wait for the kick-off now!! Come on you Reds!!
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16/12/2007 11:39:00

wat ya on bout harley riise gonna nail the lil dancer ronaldo all he cn do is salsa ;]
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16/12/2007 11:58:00

but i rekon man u gonna wiin 2 - o
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16/12/2007 11:58:00

KING CARLITOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Report Abuse
16/12/2007 15:57:00

well done lads ,, must be honest and say I didn,t fancy your chances at Annfield but ,, credit where it,s due ! ! to YOU ,, WELL DONE ! HAIL ,, HAIL ...
wishaw bhoy
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16/12/2007 16:53:00

Yes !!!! carlos tevez is amazing ! 1-0 beat at Anfield ! Well done lads you plade well !
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16/12/2007 17:04:00

Well done Rio 4 the man-of-the-match !!!!!!!!!!
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16/12/2007 17:05:00

played well shows how much you know we played crap and still got a result now thats class!!
Report Abuse
16/12/2007 18:04:00

Uniited Were Dissapointing 2daii..But Pulled Out A Good Result To Keep On Trac Wiith Arsenal.
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16/12/2007 18:07:00

Anfield atmospher was grate and it had alot of tension on our players, we didn't play very good but we deserved a win. although arsenal has beaten chelsea, i doubt they will stay at the top for a long time.
Star 3000
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16/12/2007 18:42:00

Congratulations, Manu played great defensively, didn't create a lot but you didn't need to. See you at Old Trafford.
Report Abuse
16/12/2007 19:29:00

ye anfeild atmosphere shud have teared the scum apart bt they wer strong
Report Abuse
18/12/2007 13:00:00


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