25 October 2009, Sunday
Four defeats in succession and suddenly Liverpool's title challenge looks almost over. Liverpool fans will cling to the knowledge that in 1963-64, Bill Shankly's side picked up the trophy after losing four of their first nine games, but a win for Manchester United on Sunday afternoon would surely put the final nail in their coffin.
Liverpool player in focus: Javier Mascherano. As a defensive shield for the back four, Mascherano has a vitally important role to play. One of the world's finest midfielders, he has suffered a dip in form of late and has struggled to assert his dominance in the centre of the pitch. Stopping United's attacks will not be easy and Liverpool need the Argentine to be in top condition.
Man Utd player in focus: Antonio Valencia. With comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo always going to follow the Ecuadorian, he is finally beginning to show his potential. Two goals in two games have made the £16 million investment look a good one. His tricks, pace and crossing ability will cause the Liverpool defence problems, and now boasts a goal threat too.
Tactics: Hit by injuries, Liverpool should use Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel on the wings to support Fernando Torres up front on his own. Javier Mascherano will play the holding role with Yossi Benayoun drafted into the centre to try and inspire some creativity in the absence of Steven Gerrard. United should opt for a three-man midfield to try and dominate centrally, with in-form Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs pushed out wide. Both sides will want to dominate the midfield area and, whoever does, will come out on top.
Probable Liverpool line-up (4-5-1): Reina, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Mascherano, Lucas, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt, Torres.
Probable Man Utd line-up (4-5-1): Van der Sar, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville, Carrick, Scholes, O'Shea, Valencia, Giggs, Berbatov.
*Manchester United can torpedo Liverpool's title hopes for good at Anfield on Sunday..(^__^)