By Josh Powell | Sports writer
Luis Suarez v Nemanja Vidic
Nemanja Vidic must still have nightmares about facing Liverpool and walking into the fiery atmosphere at Anfield is not going to do him any favours. The Serbian defender got sent off in three consecutive games against Liverpool a few years ago and on Sunday he’ll be up against Luis Suarez.
The movement of Suarez and his ability to drop deep and pick up space will cause Vidic all kinds of problems as will the Uruguayans rapid turn off pace. It is the first time Suarez and Evra have played each other this season so expect him to have plenty of backing from Anfield and he’ll be out to prove a point.
If Suarez brings his A-game then Vidic will have to put in a real performance to stop him. The one thing in the United defenders favour is that, like a lot of the Liverpool team, Suarez has not had a flying start to the season but he is still a big danger. He’s got two goals to his name in this campaign and will be looking to add to that tally against United.
Raheem Sterling v Rafael Da Silva
Raheem Sterling has set the Premier League alight since breaking in to the Liverpool first team and his electric speed, tricky skills and good vision has delighted supporters on the red half of Merseyside. Rafael is known for his attacking threat and has already found the back of the net this year against Southampton, but his defending has sometimes been called into question.
Flying forward he is a cracking full-back and will provide United with plenty of width but Ferguson will need his right-back to put in a disciplined performance against Liverpool and keep Sterling quiet. It will be important to stay on his feet and not dive in on Sterling who has shown he can make many defenders look silly as the referee is likely to be a touch harsher in these heated conditions.
If Liverpool are going to beat United it might be through 17-year-old Raheem Sterling.
Michael Carrick v Joe Allen
It is no coincidence that when Michael Carrick joined Manchester United in 2006 they went on to win three consecutive Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League in his first three seasons. Despite being underrated by many and overlooked by England, Carrick is an important cog in the United midfield and if he wins the midfield battle on Sunday he’ll be pulling the strings. (Editor’s note: Josh is obsessed with Carrick. We’re letting him away with it as it’s early in the season).
Trying to do the same thing for Liverpool will be Joe Allen. The 22-year-old Welsh international has arguably been the leading man for Liverpool over the last month or so and his ability to keep hold of possession and dictate play in the middle of the park is a key trend of the Brendan Rodgers revolution.
In a game that will no doubt be full of crunching tackles and scrappy passages of play both teams will be looking at these men to get on the ball. Both men have the ability to keep calm heads and control the tempo of the game, slowing it down were necessary. Whoever is able to put their foot on the ball for a decent period on Sunday could decide the winner.