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Liverpool v Manchester United preview

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Brendan Rodgers will field a much changed side to the one which defeated Young Boys on Thursday.

A host of players who failed to make the journey to Switzerland are available to the Anfield boss. 11 changes were made from the previous match with Sunderland, and it seems likely that the visit of Manchester United will see 11 more.

Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling did come off the bench in the Europa League encounter and seem likely to be considered to start. Jonjo Shelvey also came on as a substitute and his two goals helped press his claims for an extended role.

Lucas Leiva is the Reds' only long term absentee. Joe Cole remains troubled by a hamstring problem.

Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out the prospect of Wayne Rooney making a return from injury and will also be without Ashley Young who could be out for two to three weeks due to a bruised cartilage.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones – both some weeks away from a predicted return – are absent from the visiting defence.

United have been without a win in this fixture since 2007 when Carlos Tevez netted from close range – diverting in a wayward shot at the Kop end – just over a week before Christmas.

By common consensus United’s midfield is the area they have been found wanting against Liverpool over recent seasons. Yet United’s choices in that department are likely to be limited.  

Darren Fletcher will not be considered despite being a replacement in the midweek Champions League game. The Scottish international is making a recovery from the chronic bowel condition which has seen him sidelined since December.    

Careful consideration will be given to Paul Scholes’s involvement. The 37-year-old featured against Wigan Athletic last weekend and turned out when the Red Devils travelled to Galatasary. His involvement as a starter in three games within eight days seems unlikely.  

Robin van Persie possibly relishes taking the stage at a venue where he grabbed a brace as Arsenal  gained a somewhat fortunate win last term, though the quality of his finish for the injury time winner deserved plaudits in its own right.

Over recent years Ferguson has noted the number of sendings-off when the two most decorated sides in English football meet. Though he sees very little wrong with the spirit most games are played in the Old Trafford manager has cautioned his players to keep calm. 

"There's a great atmosphere, fantastic, and the kind of atmosphere you want to be involved in,” he said when summing up matches between his side and Liverpool.

"It does get emotive, but you just have to handle that."

 Specifically referencing the incident between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra last term, then the failure of the pair to shake hands prior to the return fixture Rodgers is certain that the pair will not figure in any further discussion of events.     

"I think enough has been said and written about that over the last year," he commented.

"This has been ongoing and everything to say about this has been said. There is nothing else I can add other than you just move on.

"I said when I first came in here, it was an episode that just went right through last season. It is a new season, another game. We look at both sets of players to respect it.

"Having worked here with Luis Suarez over the course of the last few months, he is a good guy, a good man. Ethically he is very strong, so I am sure there will be no problems at the weekend."

Both sides will pay their respects to the 96 fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster plus the families who have fought for justice for more than 23 years.

The respective clubs have been in contact to discuss plans.   

"There has been dialogue all week. There is respect in terms of the traditions of both clubs," Rodgers said.

"We want this day to be remembered for the right reasons before the game."

He added: "I am sure once we pay the tributes to the families we can get on with the football. A lot of work has been done and hopefully Sunday will pass off peacefully and well and we can talk about the tributes and football."

From 185 previous meetings Manchester United hold the balance of power with 72 wins compared to 62. There have been 51 draws.

 

Liverpool from: Reina, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Shelvey, Suarez , Borini, Sterling, Jones, Carragher, Coates, Enrique, Henderson, Sahin, Downing, Assaidi.

Manchester United: Lindegaard, De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Buttner, Valencia, Scholes, Fletcher, Powell, Carrick, Cleverley, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, Van Persie, Hernandez, Welbeck.

  

Referee: Mark Halsey

 

Kick-off is at 1.30pm

 

A lack of recent success at Anfield is not seen as a reason to make Liverpool odds on favourites with Shanklygates.co.uk's betting partner, paddypower.com 

Liverpool are at 7/4 with Manchester United rated 13/8 for a win

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Also a money back special is on offer should the game end in a draw – a 9/4 bet

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