Castle Greyskull: The Man U Preview

Mike Hewitt

We travel to Old Trafford with our destiny in our own hands, but could the week off be both a blessing and a curse?

US: 9:30 AM EST-NBC Sports

UK: 1:30 PM GMT-Sky Sports

Our late title challenge remains on course after Liverpool took care of Southampton two weeks ago, but then had a 15 day break after the postponement of the Sunderland match. Now, Liverpool go to Old Trafford with their fate in their own hands, and at this late stage in the season, that's a nice surprise, to say the least.

We go in a cool 11 points in front of United - while we're in second, they're in sixth. Role reversal indeed. But that's not to say we're not nervous. The Mancs are coming off a 3-0 win against West Brom, and, just as we are, are galvanized. Moreover, they will always pose a danger to us in such a big rivalry game, especially on their home pitch.

No injury concerns?!? Well, not quite. Jose Enrique is still out, but Mamadou Sakho and Lucas are finally back and chose to forego an extra six days rest and play in the U21s last weekend. Brendan claims they're in contention, and we'll see where they figure. Sebastian Coates is also missing (of course).

Daniel Sturridge has picked up the BPL player of the month for February for the 2nd time this season and looks to continue his form. Luis Suarez is back amongst the goals (Wahey!) and also had an assist to Raheem Sterling for our 2nd against Southampton, who's on some good form of his own.

Liverpool have won five of their last six, with one draw against WBA the only scratch on the record. They've also won four in a row. The last time we went on a four game win streak however, we lost two in a row, although those losses were at City and Chelsea.

Incredibly, we're the favorites for once at Old Trafford. Robbie Fowler has come out and said that because of form, his money is on us. And unlike his predecessor, David Moyes agreed. Strange.

Manchester United have four players out in Rafeal, Hernandez, Evans and Nani, all of which face late fitness tests. If Evans doesn't pass his, we could see Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, who are far from their high standard of a few years ago.

United have won three of their last six, but lost just once. A key battle to watch is Gerrard vs Carrick. Both will look to own the midfield, and are possibly the two best at doing so in the Premier League on their day. Possession in midfield could win the match. Fortunately, Liverpool look to have a rather large advantage overall in the midfield.

And then you have Rooney/Van Persie vs Sturridge and Suarez. Two of the best strike partnerships to watch in the league, and both defenses know they're gonna have to be on high alert. It could be a high scoring affair considering some of the shambolic defensive displays from both teams this season.

Some thoughts:

-Remember Twitter on deadline day? "We're Not Galvanized"... Yeah, made you look! (JAceKopite16)

-Do we bench Coutinho? Allen did okay against Saints, but I thought he was supposed to keep possession? He didn't do so. What we could do is put Lucas in a defensive midfield role and push Gerrard up and keep Cou on left. But I think we'd lose a bit of strength in benching Hendo. (JAceKopite16)

-I actually like Allen over Coutinho at least to start because he provides more stability in an away match and, well, Coutinho was rather horrible against the Saints. However, there's lots of possibilities for Rodgers, and one of them is even that Coutinho and Allen play together again and Sterling is a super sub. We'll just have to wait and see, but it's nice to have options. (loyal2reds)

-United have a Champions League match midweek, and they need to win the whole thing to qualify next year. Surely that won't mean that Moyes will rest anyone against Liverpool? (loyal2reds)

-More nervous than I should be. (loyal2reds)

-Loved BR playing some subtle mind games in the pre-match presser.  Dropping out of the CL and the like...I see you BR, I see you. (Matt)

-Midfield selection will be interesting and (for me) the key to the match.  That's not to say I have the answers.  Gerrard and Hendo are guarantees.  Can you drop Sterling after he dominated Southampton?  Can you banish Phil after one (really, really, really) poor game?  Wouldn't Allen add some extra structure to midfield?  Your move Rodgers. (Matt)

-I'm more nervous about this one than I should be as well, but I think that's because the stakes are clearly raised compared to recent seasons.  The expectation is a knife to United's heart at Old Trafford, this is encouraging unto itself. (Matt)

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