Hassan Chamas

What: English Premier League
Who: Manchester United (1st; 66 points) vs Liverpool (5th; 51 points)
When: Sunday 21st March, 2010, at 13:30 GMT
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester, England


Manchester United host Liverpool in another edition of the biggest North West derby with retaliation in mind after Liverpool ended up with the spoils last time the two sides met. A lot has changed since then however, with Manchester United going on a great run, while their rivals have been on their worst run under manager Rafael Benitez.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s team goes into the match in the best of spirits. The Red Devils have been in fantastic form lately, humiliating AC Milan 7-3 on aggregate in their double-legged Champions League fixture. Currently, only two points separate Man Utd from second-placed Chelsea, but with the Blues’ recent European disappointment, the Old Trafford side will feel that a win over Liverpool this Sunday would be a huge step towards retaining their Premier League trophy for the fourth year running.

Glimpse of Hope

Liverpool go into the battle with their fierce rivals on a high after winning back some of their fans with impressive victories over Portsmouth and more importantly, Lille. With the English Premier League trophy now a three-way dance between Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, The Reds know that while their only redemption this season might remain the Europa League, they can have a big say in the title race too by stopping the Red Devils in their tracks.

It has been a topsy-turvy week for manager Rafael Benitez. The Spaniard only recently welcomed back Alberto Aquilani to the side, only to see the midfielder out again with illness, and will likely be crossing fingers to get him back in time for this clash. Also, Albert Riera’s recent criticism of his Spanish boss earned him two weeks’ pay and a suspension, leaving the winger’s Anfield future in doubt.

Recent form

Manchester United:

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Manchester United (Premier League)
Manchester United 4-0 AC Milan (Champions League)
Manchester United 3-0 Fulham (Premier League)


OSC Lille 1-0 Liverpool (Europa League)
Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth (Premier League)
Liverpool 3-0 OSC Lille (Europa League)

Key absences

Manchester United: Johnny Evans (doubt); Rafael da Silva (doubt); Ryan Giggs (doubt); Wes Brown; Michael Owen; Owen Hargreaves; Anderson; John O’Shea

Liverpool: Fabio Aurelio (doubt); Alberto Aquilani (doubt); Martin Skrtel; Albert Riera (internal suspension)

Players to watch

Manchester United – Wayne Rooney: Manchester United’s front-man has been blistering recently, and his destruction of Milan was soon followed by a Man of the Match performance against Fulham. The former Everton star will also be extra motivated to defeat the team he hates the most.

Liverpool – Fernando Torres: Part of Liverpool’s recent showings have been due to the striker’s return. “El Nino” produced stellar performancse in the Anfield side’s last couple of games, and will surely fancy another encounter with Nemanja Vidic, remembering the way he got the better of the Serbian in their last meeting here, which ended 4-1 to Liverpool.

Match prediction

A lot has changed since these teams faced each other last October. Liverpool’s bad run might have come to an end against Portsmouth and Lille, but they are still no real match for a Rooney-driven United yet. For their part, the Old Trafford side will not want to relinquish valuable points that could prove to be decisive in the title race, and should Wayne Rooney continue his good form on Sunday – which he probably will – expect them to come out on top 2-0.

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