LIVERPOOL FC take on their great rivals Manchester United today at Anfield, it what is widely regarded as one of the two biggest derbies in Europe (along with Real Madrid vs Barca). Whilst games between the two most successful clubs in England are usually a tense and high-strung affair, tomorrow is likely to transcend even that, with this being the first home game since the HIP report was released last week and the incident involving a small minority of Manchester United fans mocking chants at home to Wigan last weekend.
The great hope is that events will go off without any incident and, we can only hope that this is the case. Over the past week, everybody from Kenny Dalglish, to Alex Ferguson have pleaded for events to go off without an incident similar to last weekend and for both sets of fans to show their respects and ‘bury the hatchet’ for a change. We can all agree that it is important for the events on the pitch to come out as the main focus of the day.
A secondary issue, of course, is the standing animosity between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, after the Uruguayan forward was found guilty of racially abusing the French defender. Suarez still maintains his innocence, whist the debate rumbles on over what was said and what was meant.
The important thing, however, is that events on the pitch remain the main focus once the game is done and with both sides being at near full-strength, it is likely that this will end up the case.
The visitors will be without Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, whilst Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are set to make their United debuts in what is the biggest league game of boths club’s season.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are still without Lucas Leiva, but having rested the majority of their first-team for the group stage Europa League tie against Young Boys in the week, are likely to welcome back Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Luis Suarez.
Whilst new loanee from Real Madrid, Nuri Sahin, was a shoe-in to start against United this afternoon, it’s likely that the star of the Red’s 5:3 win over the Swiss side on Thursday night, Jonjo Shelvey, has earned himself a start in place of the Turk.
Possible starting line-up: Reina; Johnson, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger; Allen, Shelvey, Gerrard; Sterling, Suarez, Borini
So, what are your predictions for the game?