Liverpool fans have every right to be as optimistic of beating Manchester United on Sunday given their current form.
Victory for the Reds would move them above their rivals and into the UEFA Champions League places heading into the final eight games of the season and with United considered to have the more-difficult run in.
Brendan Rodgers’ side the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League and highest points tally in 2015 – they are the in-form team.
Here are five things Liverpool be will wanting to get right on Sunday to ensure they leapfrog their hated rivals:
1. Give Philippe Coutinho the Ball
Liverpool have one of the best attacking threats in the Premier League right now – Raheem Sterling’s pace, goalscoring and cutbacks from the right wing, Daniel Sturridge as the central striker and Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho on the left. The 22-year old enjoys success coming deep to collect the ball around the halfway line and running at defenders. Only Christian Eriksen and Yaya Touré have had more attempts on goal from outside the penalty area this season and Coutinho has scored a couple of screamers. He’s also a playmaker in and round the box and could come up against Antonio Valencia who is not a defender.
2. Open Up Manchester United’s Defence
Manchester United’s defence has been hit and miss this season, more miss than hit in fact. David de Gea has won them won numerous points. An example of that was back in December when the Spaniard made nine saves, some spectacular, in keeping a clean sheet versus Liverpool. Antonio Valancia, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have all been guilty of mistakes and poor positioning this season – the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Sterling need to take advantage of any opportunities on Sunday.
3. Take Their Chances
Only Everton have stopped Liverpool scoring in the Premier League since the Reds lost at Old Trafford 14 games ago. Liverpool had nine shots on target versus Manchester United last time but came up against an inspired David de Gea. They are still only the sixth highest-scoring team in the league so far this season after scoring 101 goals last season. Expect them to create a lot of chances on Sunday and perhaps this time they will find the back of the net.
4. Get the Starting XI Right
Something Brendan Rodgers has got right since the turn of the year. At Old Trafford, Brad Jones played in goal and had a stinker. Glen Johnson played in defence and played like Glen Johnson. And Mario Balotelli played 45 minutes continuing his goal drought. Since then, the back three of Emre Can, Martin Škrtel and Mamadou Sakho have been doing well in defence, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen have partnered well in the centre of midfield and the front three have been very threatening, and they can call upon Adam Lallana too. The right midfield has been the one position in question of late, but despite his good showings, Manchester United’s left winger Ashley Young has only been involved in one goal in his seven Premier League appearances since Christmas, albeit the winner at Newcastle.
5. Take Advantage of Robin van Persie’s Injury
The absence of Robin van Persie has certainly disrupted Manchester United. In recent weeks, Louis van Gaal has dropped playing two strikers as a result of his Dutch striker’s absence and seemingly losing faith in Radamel Falcao. Van Persie was the man of the match when these two last met, scoring the killer goal and setting up another. No RvP this time and United don’t have that many regular goalscorers – Wayne Rooney (11 goals), Juan Mata (5) and Marouane Fellaini (4) and we don’t expect the latter two to both start.
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