Analysis

FLIP’s Picks In-Play: Liverpool vs Man Utd

Written by Sam Hopkinson

Merseyside will still be swinging after the 3-3 draw with Arsenal. Just when it seemed like all of Liverpool’s good work was for nothing, Joe Allen saved the day. Manchester United were let off the leash by Van Gaal in their last match, and although they only came away with a point there was the sense that there has been some improvement. If United attack at Anfield though, they will leave themselves exposed—Liverpool’s successes this season have come when teams attack them. Louis Van Gaal is no stranger to hostility from his own fans, and he might have to absorb some more vitriol by going defensive against Klopp.

DEFENDER

Steven Caulker

Signed on loan from QPR, this is a better move than Caulker really deserves. It was expected that playing for Southampton might give the ex-Spurs graduate a platform to show everyone his quality. Things haven’t worked out that way—a criminally poor performance against Liverpool in the League Cup was the last time Caulker made an appearance for the Saints, who had no qualms about terminating his loan and allowing him to move to Merseyside. Klopp had little choice—it was either get in an emergency backup or spend big and bring in a first team defender, something that is exceptionally difficult to pull off in January. Perhaps playing for Liverpool will get Caulker back on track again.

MIDFIELDER

Roberto Firmino

Firmino’s good performances have come too few this season, but his game against Arsenal was excellent. With Liverpool suffering such a deep injury crisis, the Brazilian has had to step up his game or risk the ire of a generally supportive fanbase. If Manchester United come to Anfield to attack, there ought to be room for Firmino to work some magic again. It does seem to answer the current question for Klopp though—Liverpool do play better when Benteke isn’t on the field. What an expensive mistake that signing is turning out to be.

STRIKER

Wayne Rooney

The veteran English striker looks to be finding a little form at the right time for Louis Van Gaal. Although the Dutchman has persisted with Rooney even when no one else would, too many times Old Trafford has been left disappointed. Rooney’s days as a number 9 look to be over—he simply doesn’t have the physical ability any more. However, he might just make a worthy number 10 behind Anthony Martial. The question is, will this match be a good time for it?

HONOURABLE MENTION

Jesse Lingard

Lingard should have put the game at Newcastle to bed, but achieved a glaring miss instead. It’s a little hard to understand the hype around this kid when you’re not a Manchester United fan, but at least he’s a player with some attacking verve.

About the author

Sam Hopkinson

Sam has attended matches everywhere from Cambodia to Canada, and is a persistent Spurs fan. If he didn’t have football, he’d probably turn to a life of crime just to get that exhilarating fix. Superstitious enough to believe that picking a player for his fantasy team spells doom for the poor sod.