It is advantage Liverpool as both sides go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
Kenny Dalglish’s side earned the bragging rights with a 2-1 victory at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round and all eyes will be on what happens between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra and the customary pre-match handshake.
In some ways it’s fortunate the circus surrounding Harry Redknapp being cleared of all allegations of bungs and tax dodging and Fabio Capello resigning on the same day, happened this week to ease some of the speculation that could have filled the media in the run-up to this match.
United have lost just two of their last 15 Premier League matches but we saw the best and worst of them during last weekend’s remarkable 3-3 draw at Chelsea. Yes, United were magnificent as they battled back from 3-0 down but their defensive weaknesses were there for all to see.
Goalkeeper David De Gea does not look up to Premier League standard yet and he was exposed during the FA Cup tie against Liverpool. No doubt he will be a target yet again from set-pieces should he stand between the sticks.
At the back United may be vulnerable but they are irresistible in attack with 16 goals in their last five matches. Wayne Rooney’s two penalties against Chelsea were his first in the league since scoring at Fulham before Christmas and of course Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season. The Bulgarian netted a treble against Wigan on Boxing Day and it will be interesting to see if he features on Saturday.
Liverpool are in good form themselves and have lost just three times in their last 15 in all competitions. They are also very mean in defence – only Manchester City have conceded fewer goals in the Premier League this season.
The danger man for them in recent weeks has been Craig Bellamy and the Welshman has scored six goals in his last eight starts. The pacy striker gave Rio Ferdinand a torrid time when playing for Manchester City a couple of seasons ago and will been keen to impress on the big stage again.
This is a difficult match to predict but given home advantage, I will favour United to avenge their FA Cup exit and close the gap on Manchester rivals City before their match kicks off on Sunday.
Verdict: Manchester United @ 1.91 (Paddy Power)
- Liverpool @ 4.5 (Betfred)
- Draw @ 3.6 (bet365)
Wayne Rooney finally broke his goalscoring duck with two penalties against Chelsea last weekend and is overdue a goal against Liverpool. His last strike against the Reds came in March 2010 and he can be backed at 5.0 (Bet Victor).
Selected other first goalscorers:
- Javier Hernandez @ 6.5 (Sky Bet)
- Danny Welbeck @ 7.0 (Boylesports)
- Dimitar Berbatov @ 8.0 (Boylesports)
- Luis Suarez @ 8.5 (bet365)
- Nani @ 9.0 (Sportingbet)
- Craig Bellamy @ 10.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Ashley Young @ 11.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Andy Carroll @ 13.0 (bet365)
- Steven Gerrard @ 13.0 (bet365)
- Luis Valencia @ 13.0 (Ladbrokes)
- Dirk Kuyt @ 15.0 (bet365)
- Ji Sung Park @15.0 (Betfred)
- No Goalscorer @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)
Craig Bellamy has scored six goals in the last eight matches he has started and is on course to win Player of the Season for Liverpool. He looks good value at 4.0 (Ladbrokes) to hit the back of the net at any time, especially given United’s defensive frailties.
Selected other anytime goalscorers:
- Javier Hernandez @ 2.7 (Paddy Power)
- Danny Welbeck @ 2.85 (Sportingbet)
- Dimitar Berbatov @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)
- Luis Suarez @ 3.5 (Coral)
- Nani @ 3.8 (Sportingbet)
- Ashley Young @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
- Andy Carroll @ 5.0 (bet365)
- Steven Gerrard @ 5.0 (bet365)
- Luis Valencia @ 5.0 (Sky Bet)
- Dirk Kuyt @ 5.0 (bet365)
- Ji Sung Park @ 5.5 (Sky Bet)
Despite Liverpool’s mean defence, there could be goals in this fixture. United scored three last weekend and with David De Gea shaky in goal, Liverpool could grab a couple themselves. How about United to win 3-2 @ 29.0 (bet365).
Selected other correct scores:
- Manchester United 1-0 @ 7.5 (Boylesports)
- Manchester United 2-0 @ 9.5 (Coral)
- Manchester United 2-1 @ 9.0 (Bet Victor)
- Manchester United 3-0 @ 17.0 (Coral)
- Manchester United 3-1 @ 17.0 (Coral)
- Draw 0-0 @ 11.0 (Sky Bet)
- Draw 1-1 @ 7.0 (Betfred)
- Draw 2-2 @ 15.0 (bet365)
- Liverpool 1-0 @ 12.0 (Paddy Power)
- Liverpool 2-0 @ 23.0 (Coral)
- Liverpool 2-1 @ 15.0 (Bet Victor)
- Liverpool 3-0 @ 67.0 (Betfred)
- Liverpool 3-1 @ 41.0 (Sky Bet)
- Liverpool 3-2 @ 41.0 (Sportingbet)