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Manchester United v Liverpool Preview: Will The Champions Avenge FA Cup Defeat?

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The Premier League run-in has officially started. Last Sunday saw Manchester United earn a stunning draw coming back from 3-0 to draw with Chelsea, tomorrow they face bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

United will go into the game confident of avenging their FA Cup defeat two weeks ago at Anfield, knowing that dropped points this weekend simply isn’t an option, as that will play right into the hands of Manchester City.

Kenny Dalglish whether you like him or not, has unsurprisingly changed the atmosphere at Liverpool since re-joining last season making it clear after patchy results to his underperforming players that he demands more from them.

Despite sitting in 7th place in the table, Liverpool are in high spirits at the moment and having knocked United out of the FA Cup have a Carling Cup final to look forward to in a fortnight against Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City side at Wembley.

Dalglish will know that a defeat would severely hurt their slim chances of grabbing fourth and a place in next season’s Champions League, and he would love nothing more than to get another one over his good rival Sir Alex Ferguson.

Unsurprisingly a lot of the hype going into this game, just as it did in this month’s FA Cup match at Anfield, will be on Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez who will face up to each other for the first time since October when the Uruguayan racially abused United’s stand-in captain.

This will be a big test of Suarez’s character but either way United’s defence cannot underestimate him and will have to watch out for his tricky sharp turns which could certainly inflict damage and play into Dalglish’s sides’ hands.

So what can we expect from tomorrow’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch?

Antonio Valencia v Luis Enrique

Only someone with insanity would have thought that Liverpool were making a mistake by drafting in left-back Enrique from Newcastle in the summer. He has settled into life at Anfield well and has been the Premier League’s in-form full-back so far this season.

However he was troubled by Valencia at Anfield recently. The Ecuador winger has been in outstanding form since the turn of the year and despite a quiet performance at Chelsea last weekend, has the ability to win United tomorrow’s game.

Michael Carrick v Steven Gerrard

It would be fair to say that 2011 was probably the worst year of Liverpool’s captain Gerrard’s career. When he wasn’t out injured he was struggling with niggling injures on the pitch and was unable to drag his side back as title challengers.

The New Year though has started well for Gerrard and he has the ability to roll back the years and hurt United. Carrick’s job will be to stop him doing just that, but this may be a challenge he can’t win due to United’s midfield problems.

Wayne Rooney v Martin Skrtel

Whilst a lot of focus has been on Skrtel’s defensive partner’s Daniel Agger’s form this season as the Dane appears to have got over his injury worries, it has been forgotten slightly that the giant and rugged Slovakian has started the season just as well

Skrtel’s consistency has vastly improved over the last 18 months and he no longer looks a scared and nervous giant. Rooney though has got the better of him before and will not be scared of going one-on-one with

In terms of a prediction for the game, as stated earlier on in a on in a predictions article, I cannot see United winning this one comfortably as Liverpool and Suarez will no doubt make it a tough match; however I can see Rooney scoring with United winning by a goal.

That result would certainly crank up the pressure on Manchester City ahead of their tricky trip to Villa Park on Sunday making a tricky match against an inconsistent Aston Villa side even more tricky, considering Roberto Mancini’s side lost there last season.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87