Liverpool full-back Alvaro Arbeloa reckons (while talking to Sky Sports) that Ronaldo leaving Manchester United and going to Real Madrid can only be good for Liverpool.
Which brings us to the topic of this post – can Liverpool beat United if Ronaldo isn’t playing? And perhaps just as important, can Liverpool finish ahead of United in the Premier League if Ronaldo wasn’t around?
One would expect United’s form to suffer if you took Ronaldo out of the mix but that just assumes that a) Ferguson won’t replace him with another goal-scoring machine and b) the other players won’t adapt and will deteriorate instead of improving.
I think that while United will perhaps lose a little on the goal-scoring front they will ultimately start playing better as a team as opposed to playing around one player, as the trend has become in the last two seasons. Replacing Ronaldo with an orthodox winger and bringing in a natural striker (as opposed to midget frontline of second strikers) would also help other players take on the responsibility of winning games. Similarly, Taking Fernando Torres out of Liverpool won’t evaporate the goals – it would just shift the responsibility to the rest of the team.
On the other hand the question is perhaps unfair – handicapping a team and then wondering if they can be beaten may give opposition fans an ego-boost but it ultimately proves nothing.
For what it’s worth, Ronaldo hasn’t been awesome against Liverpool at Anfield so I’d expect United to keep winning despite his absence. The league is a different story but while the gap might get closer United would still have the edge.
What do you think?