After every Liverpool win in recent times the feeling of relief comes over you. For ten seconds, that is, then anxiety for the next crucial match creeps in. And today it´s another big ´un when arch rivals Manchester United visits Anfield for a Premier League battle. This could be the match which decides if the Reds or Man Utd lands in top four.
To watch the Liverpool-Man United clashes gives me the jitters. I crave a win and dread a defeat. It´s the worst thing to see the gang from Old Trafford win and and the absolute best feeling to see our lads triumph. This time it´s even more urgent to win and therefore even more nerve-wracking.
A win for Liverpool would see us leapfrog United up to fourth. It would be the first time we are higher than fifth since matchday one in August. Right now Manchester United are two points better off than us so a win would give us a one point edge with eight matches to go. Not a huge margin but still something to work on and it´s always better to have a advantage than the opposite. A defeat could on the other hand be the end of Red top four hopes. Then Man Utd leaves us five points behind and even if it´s possible to bounce back it will certainly be extremely difficult.
It will be two in-form teams entering Anfield in a few hours. Liverpool has five wins on the trot and not a single league defeat in 13 games. The last one came against the Mancs in December so it´s a perfect opportunity for revenge. But it´s not gonna be easy. Man Utd has got a recent decent record themselves. Three straight wins and just two defeats in the last 19 league fixtures. They can also take heart from their 3-0 win versus Liverpool at Old Trafford.
But that was then, this is now, and Liverpool is playing far better than before Christmas. We were hardly outplayed in the game in Manchester, it was a even contest play-wise but United got the breaks and had some benevolent refereeing missing a clear offside ahead of the 2-0 goal.
If statistics plays any part then Liverpool has the upper hand. We can boast a good record in the last seven years when seven league and cup games at Anfield has produced five home wins.
But I don´t think previous meetings has any bearing on the result today. The bravest team will win and that is Liverpool in my book. We are almost always confident facing United at Anfield and they are in the same way almost always shaky when they step out in L4. This time so much is at stake so I guess both teams will be a little wary but it´s all about getting settled quickly and start bossing the game. I believe Liverpool can and will do it.
The way to do it is attack. Both teams has their main strength in attack and the Reds must make sure they are dominating the offensive play. The United defence can be a bit shaky at times, making silly mistakes, we have to make the most of it should it happen. At the same time our own defence need to perform as in recent months, with courage, determination and a no-nonsense attitude.
Most importantly is to get our magic playmaker Philippe Coutinho on the ball as much as possible. He has the keys to unlock any defence and when on song he also creates space for others. If he plays to his highest level then the vistors will find it hard to live with us. United has a lot of really expensive players, household names in the football world, but I think that Liverpool is more developed as a team and that could also be a decisive factor.
Furthermore, we have 40 000 Kopites to drag us over the line. I´m sure the Reds will be supported in a European night game kind of way and when this happens the twelfth man often has a say in the result.
The other eleven must of course do their part and I would field this Red guys to raise hopes even higher of a top four finish (in a 3-4-3 formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Emre Can. VB: Martin Skrtel. LB: Mamadou Sakho. RWB: Adam Lallana. CM: Jordan Henderson. CM: Joe Allen. RWB: Alberto Moreno. RF: Raheem Sterling. CF: Daniel Sturridge. LF: Philippe Coutinho.
This has more or less become the regular line-up as of late. Neither Adam Lallana nor Raheem Sterling is ideal as wingbacks but they have lately quite successfully shared the responibilty of the position in a couple of games. One of them has been holding back and taking care of defensive duties while the other has gone on an attacking mission. This has confused the opposition a bit not knowing if Lallana or Sterling is the attacking threat to watch.
Of course, Steven Gerrard can stake a claim in the line-up, now he´s injury-free, but I think it´s better to let him enter the field with half an hour to go. This eleven is working well together and there is no point in unsettling the side because of sentimental reasons it being Gerrard´s last chance against Man United. After all, football is about winning, not succumbing to emotional factors. The only emotions I want to indulge in this evening is the winning ones as:
We Go Again.