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Manchester United: 3 Keys to Defeating Liverpool at Old Trafford

WIGAN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United at DW Stadium on January 1, 2013 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Devil in a New DressSenior Writer IJanuary 9, 2013

Manchester United will take on Liverpool in the return leg of this fixture over the weekend, having won the first meeting 2-1 at Anfield.

As the season has progressed under the direction of Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have become a more structurally sound team. Luis Suarez's incredible goalscoring form is in stark contrast to what it was under Kenny Dalglish and the addition of youth as well as Rodgers' passing football philosophy mean that Liverpool have legs to carry the ball and the wherewithal to keep it—a daunting prospect in essence.

Here are three tactical moves that would help United defeat Liverpool.

 

Partner Robin Van Persie with Javier Hernandez

This is a simple case of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson playing to the strengths of his team. So often this season, it has been United's attack that has bailed the team out of sticky situations, so getting the team selection right is critical.

Hernandez's runs to stretch the defense and capitalize on holes in the opposition's defense mixed with Robin Van Persie's strength and point-blank finish have contributed a combined goal tally of 32 to United cause this season.

 

A Mix of Experience and Mobility in Central Midfield

The last time these sides played, Sir Alex started the match with a midfield consisting of Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Nani (with Paul Scholes replacing Nani after halftime). Liverpool dominated the majority of the match even though United left with the win and many felt that Rodgers' players were worthy of at least a draw.

 

A mix of mobility in the form of Tom Cleverley and experience in the form of Carrick will serve United well when they try to break down a stacked Liverpool back line that will include Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard as defensive midfielders.

 

Partner Jonny Evans with Rio Ferdinand on Defense

Uncertainty still exists around Nemanja Vidic's fitness level ahead of Liverpool, and despite starting a number of United's recent games, the captain is still on the recovery path from his knee injuries.

A settled defense who are fully aware of each other's roles will be required to keep Luis Suarez quiet, so Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand are United's best options against Liverpool.

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