When Liverpool went to Old Trafford last March, United were well below the top four spot and their manager David Moyes was on huge pressure to turn things around. Liverpool on the other hand were sitting near top and were providing an unlikely title challenge.
But how things have changed in the past nine months with both teams experiencing contrasting emotions as Brendan Rodgers is the man under scrutiny this time around. So let us look at the three things which have changed since Liverpool visited Old Trafford last time.
Change in fortunes of the strikers
Liverpool strikers were on fire when they returned to Old Trafford last March. They had two of the in form strikers Suarez and Sturridge. Not that United’s attacking force was any poor, as the Reds had Van Persie and Rooney in their ranks. But, the teams front-line was struggling to get goals.
Last season Sturridge scored 21 goals and Suarez managed 31 goals in the premier league. Within themselves they have scored 52 goals in the league.
However, things have changed since. The currently available front-line of Balotelli, Lambert and Borini have managed only one goal in the league despite playing more games then United. The injured Daniel Sturridge has scored the same number of goals in just three games this season before being injured.
On the other hand though, Robin Van Persie, Rooney and Falcao have scored 12 goals between them. It doesn’t mean that United are ruthless in attack but, the attackers are slowly starting to find their feet. Despite the Reds below par performances, United always look like they have a goal in them. So it is up to Liverpool striking force to match them.
Now Rodgers’ job is under fire
The ‘Chosen one’ or the ‘Wrong one’ David Moyes job was under immense scrutiny when United took on Liverpool last March. A win would not have helped the team in reaching the top four spot, however inflicting a major blow to Liverpool’s title quest would have given him a huge respite.
But, it was not to be as Liverpool came away as a comfortable 3-0 winners. From the moment on, it was a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Moyes will be sacked. The inevitable happened a month later, when Ryan Giggs was appointed as a acre taker manager.
Nine months later, its Rodgers who is facing the heat. After Liverpool were knocked out in group stage of the Champions League having just won once in six matches, the pressure his huge for him to steady the ship in the league.
With Liverpool currently sitting ninth in the table, a win against their direct top four rival is a must. If United win the match, Liverpool will go 10 points adrift of the Red Devils. If it happens, there is nothing much Rodgers can do to prevent himself from being sacked.
Summer failings are costing Liverpool
After Luis Suarez departed in the summer for Barcelona, Liverpool used all his money to strengthen the squad. They bought eight first team players for more then 100 million in the summer. However, Liverpool missed the trick here, as they went for quantity over quality.
Liverpool had a thin squad last time around and it was enough for them to get into the top four due to the lack of European football distraction. With the club qualifying for the Champions League, Rodgers believed that they require extra players to cope with the additional matches hence he bought eight players in the summer.
However, experts believe that the summer overhaul unsettled their squad. Further many thought that Liverpool could have been more clever like Chelsea, who bought just the five players but, most were proven talents in premier league like Fabregas and Drogba.
Moreover, the players who Rodgers bought have also failed to live up to the expectation. Balotelli is yet to open his account in the league, whereas Lambert has managed only three goals. Also the below par performances from big signings such as Lovren and Markovic is costing the team dearly.
Like the Merseyside outfit, Manchester United also spent heavily this summer. However, the club has manged to get proven quality like Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and Falcao. But, United have also sold experienced players like Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra. With major changes at Old Trafford, it is up to the new look United team to have the first taste at the rivalry.
Image courtesy: Dailymail
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