LM – Downing v Young: Both new signings; both from Aston Villa and both very talented. Time will tell who turns out to be the better value signing. At the moment though, it’s fair to say that Young is the slightly better player but Downing could turn out to be the more valuable signing though, as he is more consistent and contribute more to the team. So for the time being, I’m sitting on the fence on this one: Downing – 8 v Young – 8
DM – Lucas v Carrick: Anderson has played more this season but Carrick is United’s first-choice when it comes to the defensive midfield role. He is supposedly a great passer of the ball and was once thought of as England’s great midfield hope. Back in the real world we all know he’s just an average player who makes 1-in-10 passes look good; he is everything that is wrong with the England tea, in that he is picked repeatedly whilst better players than him are left by the wayside. On the other hand, Lucas has won over pretty much all of his detractors within (and without) the club; he is now happily sitting atop the list of the League’ best holding midfielders and, should Liverpool get back in to the Champions League this season, probably also Europe in the future. This one is easy: Lucas – 9 v Carrick – 6
CM – Gerrard v Giggs: While Charlie Adam has played every game so far for the Reds, there can be no doubt that Gerrard will be back in the side when fit and it’s likely to be Charlie Adam who loses out. Giggs – let’s be honest here – is a total legend. A cheating scum-bag but a legendary footballer and not even the most hardened Red could deny it. Likewise, Gerrard is one of the greatest midfielders that we’ve ever had. If he wins even one League title with us before he retires, he will rightly be held on the same level as a player like Giggs. But given that Giggs has been a fading force for a couple of seasons and that he’s used sparingly and likely to be used even more so this year, you have to give Gerrard the edge here: Gerrard – 10 v Giggs – 9
RM – Kuyt v Nani: This is a more difficult position to look at as both have hugely differing styles. Nani is the archetypal winger while Kuyt is a converted forward with lots of energy and a workhorses attitude. One runs the wings the other has a tendency to drift inside or cross from deep. But they’re both equally as effective for their respective clubs: Kuyt – 8 v Nani – 8
CF – Suarez & Carroll v Hernandez & Rooney: While Berbatov would be most people’s choice over Hernandez, it appears he has been frozen out at OT in recent games so given how highly thought of ‘little pea’ (or whatever his ridiculous name is) is, he completes the pairing with Rooney. Both are very dangerous on paper but both still have some flaws and need bit of work. Individually, though there’s no doubt that these are four of the best forwards in the League. Even as for me, it’s hard to admit but on his day Rooney can devastate teams on without any help from his team-mates. With what we’ve seen of Suarez so far though, the same can be said of him. With Carroll and Hernandez though, they’re both very much rough diamonds and works in progress. The talent is certainly for both of them but they must be honed into complete players by their clubs: Suarez – 10 & Carroll – 7 v Rooney – 9 & Hernandez – 7
Bench: It’s on the bench where the battle is likely to be won or lost from either team as both teams are stronger than their counterparts in certain positions. Going with the 7-man bench that is standard practise in the Premier League now, this is what I believe is strongest Liverpool’s bench: Doni – 8, Skrtel – 7, Aurelio – 8, Henderson – 7, Meireles – 9 , Adam – 8, Ngog – 7 v Lindegaard– 7, Fabio – 6, Jones – 8, Anderson – 7, Cleverley – 7, Valencia – 8, Berbatov – 9
Having taken all of these ratings into consideration (and I haven’t been doing it strategically, I’ve just rated players based purely on how good I think they are out of 10) and totalled them up, the final overall ratings of each squad is: Liverpool – 147 v Manchester United – 139 with each club having an average score of 8.16 and 7.77 per player. So in my opinion, Liverpool currently have the edge over the League Champions in terms of overall squad and also starting 11’s. At this moment in time though, Liverpool are a much ‘newer’ team, while United have the mentally they’ve built up over the years and know what it means to win. The positive thing for the Reds is that their players are there to overhaul them sooner or later, and should we bring in a couple more quality signings in the next few days, then I can see no reason for why that can’t be sooner.
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