This Weekend Its all About One MatchBy: Rob | October 23rd, 2009
Last year I focussed on the history of the derby, and if you are interested in how it all came about then click right here to read it all over again.
But this year, I’m more interested in the presant, because there are many reasons why this could be the biggest Liverpool/United (We need a catchy Clasico style tag, any ideas?) clash in absolute years. Mainly, its down to Rafa Benitez.
So to recap on how we got to where we are. Last season, Liverpool beat United twice – including stuffing them toward the close of the season – but ultimately United won the league, and Liverpool finished second.
This gives the teams the same number of English Top Division Titles, meaning whoever wins the next one can streak ahead and go on about being the biggest team in the country/continent/world/stratosphere/North West/etc. This made the start of the season really exciting.
Except, Liverpool have sort of flopped this season. Already 7 points away from United (who we’ll come to in a minute) they’ve had their share of bad luck (two words: Beach Ball), but ultimately they haven’t really solidified as a team yet this term.
The blame has come from most people back to Rafa Benitez, who if you believe the press, is very close to the Anfield door marked EXIT. I don’t entirely believe the press, just so you know.
They’re also struggling in Europe. Used to be that if Liverpool were doing crap in the league, it was okay because they’d do something mad like win the Champions League. But they are staring the UEFA Cup in the face at this point.
So Liverpool, really, really need to win this match. They’ll be without Torres, and possibly without Gerrard who limped off in the midweek Champions League loss to Lyon. Contray to popular belief, Liverpool can win without those two (and did against United last year) but they do rely on the pair an awful lot.
Man United meanwhile, may well be missing Wayne Rooney, who is only training lightly at the moment. This’ll give young Mickey Owen a chance to play against his old club. Although if Rooney is above 80%, expect him to play. As an ex-Evertonian he needs no encouragement.
Man United currently sit top of the league, and top of their Champions League group, but that isn’t to say they’ve been entirely convincing either. You could put down a loss against a newly promoted side as a freak loss usually, but United haven’t convinced me as title winners just yet. Not that anyone else has either.
I don’t think this is a forgone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination. United have occasionally lacked ideas and penetration – see the 1-0 win against CSKA in midweek – while Liverpool are very much at their best when their backs are to the wall.
It has to be said, I’m very much looking forward to Sunday, even more than usual. I know for some of you guys it means an excessive early start, but it has to be worth it. They really do not come any bigger.
If Liverpool can win, it’ll certainly put their season back on track. Not only will they be just 4 points off of United at the top of the table. but the confidence will come back, and Rafa will be feeling alot more comfortable.
Meanwhile if they lose, they’ll be 10 points adrift of the Champions, and Rafa actually will be looking over his shoulder. They key will be the Liverpool support, and if they turn on him, he’ll struggle to keep his job. Certainly there is a certain Portuguese having a bit of a unpopular run in Milan at the moment, who might be open to the job.