When Liverpool and Manchester United clash it always makes for an intriguing contest, but here we have identified three areas which we feel are capable of swinging this famous fixture.
Whether United can curtail Coutinho’s creativity
If David Moyes is to fully endear himself to the United faithful by beating Liverpool at Anfield – a quest currently rated at 13/8 with Ladbrokes – then effectively shackling the kop’s new darling should be high on his agenda.
In Brendan Rodgers’ fluid-forward system the silky Brazilian constantly pops up between the lines in search of his partner-in-crime Daniel Sturridge and is so adept at executing a slide-rule pass for the England man to run onto.
Sir Alex Ferguson would often opt for a five-in-midfield system when visiting the old foe and it may well serve his chosen replacement to assign someone like a Phil Jones to perform a man-marking duty on Coutinho.
Liverpool’s enforced reshuffling at the back
Where Coutinho has become the poster boy for renewed optimism on Merseyside with his dazzling displays, then contrastingly, there are now some defensive woes which could now jeopardise Liverpool’s own 13/8-rated chances of grabbing three points.
An injury to Kolo Toure during Liverpool’s strained Capital One Cup win over Notts County has left Rodgers with a quandary at the back. Does he put his faith in young Andre Wisdom or trust Martin Skrtel to slot straight in with no match-fitness to speak of? Either way, Robin van Persie’s 9/2 to find the net first will be boosted in Toure’s absence.
Whether or not Wayne Rooney plays from the start
Astonishingly, Rooney has only actually started one of United’s last five clashes with Liverpool either through injury or non-selection. However, after turning in one of the only eye-catching displays in a wholly uninspiring contest against Chelsea, Rooney must surely have elevated himself to the forefront of Moyes’ plans again.
With the Scot appearing to have borrowed Fergie’s reluctance to let Shinji Kagawa off the leash, Rooney’s energy and creative spark which was evident at Old Trafford will be a real weapon in the visitor’s armoury.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.