Blog by: Shayne
In what is arguably the biggest encounter in the third round of the Capital One Cup, Manchester United take on Liverpool at Old Trafford. Both sides are coming off Premier League losses this weekend and will no doubt want to regain some lost momentum by getting a victory over a bitter rival. The Premier League’s so-called ‘bigger’ clubs normally rest players in the early rounds of the League Cup, but one can expect both sides to field very strong starting line-ups for this particular match.
Given the quality of players in each squad, one can expect a very good match indeed. Let’s take a look at five battles that will be key to the result of the match:
1) Luis Suarez vs. Marouane Fellaini
The Uruguayan’s 10-match suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic is officially over and one would expect him to start the match in the position behind the striker given the fact that Coutinho is injured and they need some creative thrust. The task of keeping the tricky striker quiet will fall to Marouane Fellaini, who had a full debut to forget against Manchester City. The Belgian midfielder will have to be on the top of his game and negate his usual bouts of madness to keep Suarez quiet. Should he manage to do that, most of Liverpool’s creative play will be stifled.
2) Wayne Rooney vs. Lucas Leiva
Rooney has been in top form playing in the second striker role, creatively influencing most of United’s play. Liverpool will count on Lucas Leiva to ensure that the Englishman doesn’t wreak too much havoc in the final third. Lucas is arguably one of Liverpool’s most important midfield players but he will have to be at his very best to keep Rooney in check. That being said, it’s not an impossible task as such. Unlike the Suarez-Fellaini battle, this little duel will be an evenly-matched one and should be very interesting to watch.
3) Daniel Sturridge vs. Nemanja Vidic
The Englishman has been in flying form during the start of the season and has been scoring for fun. The task of marking him will fall to Nemanja Vidic who, despite being solid as ever in defence, can be quite easily outrun now as he seems to have lost a yard of pace. It will be up to the big Serbian to figure out ways to keep the English forward quiet, although if Sturridge keeps up his recent good run of form it could be a very long night for Vidic.
4) Javier Hernandez vs. Kolo Toure
The Mexican striker has barely featured for United this season, so this will be a good game to give him a run-out. Kolo Toure will be handed the task of marking him. It doesn’t seem like an even battle, but Hernandez has pace and his movement is excellent, which means that Toure will have to be at his best throughout the game to keep the tricky striker in check. Hernandez is the type of player who only needs a split second to score a goal, meaning the battle between him and Toure will be extremely important.
5) Antonio Valencia vs. Jose Enrique
The Ecuadorian winger has experienced some ups and downs in form, but can cause plenty trouble on his day. He will be up against Jose Enrique for most of the match. The Spanish left-back likes attacking whenever he can and he will have to work very hard to constantly track back in order to stop Valencia from getting to the byline and putting in a few crosses into the box. This particular battle should be fun to watch.