I can recall driving to Old Trafford in March to watch Liverpool play Manchester United and hearing the teams on the radio. Although United had Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in the side, it was Liverpool with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling who sounded much the stronger of the two, and so it proved.
They meet again on Sunday with Brendan Rodgers still picking up the pieces from another blow, the Champions League elimination by Basel. Last season I felt he had a confidence about him, and would pick attacking, positive teams. His selection on Tuesday was nothing like that. It was a game he needed to win and yet he picked a midfield of Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva – all solid players but more than two from those three and the side feels defensive.
Liverpool needed to blast Basel out of the way. Instead Rodgers left Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho on the bench. At half-time he brought on a left-back, Alberto Moreno, and a winger, Lazar Markovic, who has done very little for him so far. Then when he did bring on Coutinho, a No 10 to his boots – he even wears the number – he played the Brazilian in central midfield.
Sterling aside, there was a real lack of pace in this Liverpool team. Both Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique struggled and you would expect that, on Sunday, United will attack the space between Johnson and Martin Skrtel where Basel got so much joy.
Even though they struggled at times against Southampton, United have the better attack of the two sides and Van Persie is in form. As far as Liverpool are concerned, for now I just cannot see from where they expect the goals to come.
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