Match Preview: Manchester United v. Liverpool, 09.25.13

Alex Livesey

Liverpool and the newly eligible Luis Suarez head to Old Trafford, where they'll take on Manchester United in the third round of the League Cup.

Everybody have fun this weekend? No? Good, us neither. Time in between matches is our greatest enemy, even more so after bad losses and international breaks, and the few days that have passed since the loss to Southampton haven't really assuaged any concerns. With Luis Suarez returning, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool need to build and move forward--signs of lessons learned and growth have come in bits and pieces under Rodgers, and after the setback at Anfield, progress needs to pick back up.

Thankfully David Moyes hasn't had a very good few weeks either; Manchester United will somehow find a way to end up near the top of the table come May, with or without him at the helm, but I'll be damned if I don't have a wonderful feeling that this season is going to be one of their most challenging in recent memory. The mood is down, the manager's a winner that's a winner who hasn't won anything but that doesn't mean he's not a winner, and it's going to be a rough go if this United squad is going to grind their way to a league title without dark magic and a whisky glass shaped like a time turner.

Tomorrow has nothing to do with their Premier League prospects, though, as Moyes will likely field a side with some mixture of youth and experience, as is mandatory in League Cup ties so we can all type the phrase "youth and experience." This match matters more for sentiment than it does in reality, but you get the feeling that for Moyes and United it's more important--at Old Trafford in front of unsettled and unconvinced supporters, having lost to Manchester City in disappointing fashion at the weekend and once already to Liverpool this season.

Manchester United are probably too good, too big, too successful in the last twenty years to be concerned with the League Cup, but it's hard to believe they'll be passive or indifferent tomorrow.

For Liverpool:

Mignolet
Kelly Toure Sakho Enrique
Henderson Allen
Alberto
Aspas Suarez Sterling

Biggest news in the squad is that the ban for Luis Suarez has ended, and while he hasn't been involved in competitive competitive matches other than for Uruguay, he should be in contention. Philippe Coutinho's surgery was a success, meaning we've got another month-plus to wait on him, with a shorter timeline for Aly Cissokho and Glen Johnson. Daniel Agger could miss out after coming off injured--and acknowledging that he shouldn't have made himself available--against Southampton at the weekend. No word on Joe Allen's availability after being left out of the last two matchday squads in league.

Simon Mignolet will probably start ahead of Brad Jones again, with the Australian likely having to wait until the early rounds of the FA Cup to see time. Both Martin Kelly and Tiago Ilori were left out of the U21s' squad in their win over Manchester City, and while it might be a big (or in the case of Ilori, impossibly large) ask for them to start, it's sort of at the why the hell not stage. Martin Kelly? There's a rumor that he might actually be alive. Ilori? He's scary relaxed in possession and positively glides while in full stride. Jose Enrique? That's mostly just a question that might be rhetorical. Odds are that Kolo Toure and Andre Wisdom are more probable than Ilori and Kelly, with the former in central defense and the latter pressed into deputy duty again at right-back unless Kelly is ready.

The midfield shouldn't have any room for Steven Gerrard, and hopefully Allen is fit enough to start. He and Jordan Henderson would make a tasty foundation for a 2-1/1-2 interchange with Luis Alberto, who was also absent from the U21 squad yesterday. Both Gerrard and Lucas could be in the mix, of course, but I don't see any reason to play them here on the heels of a Saturday performance that was underwhelming, most notably from the captain.

Suarez starts and Daniel Sturridge sits, I hope, as there's no better stage for the Uruguayan to make his return than Old Trafford. Give both sides what they hate-want. In support there aren't many options other than Sturridge, unfortunately, though I'm guessing that Iago Aspas gets another chance after disappointing on Saturday. It's between Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe for the third spot in attack, and Sterling probably gets the edge here.

Kickoff is set for 7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST, with Sky Sports 1 airing the match live in England and BeIn Sport carrying coverage stateside. We'll have any other news earlier in the day ahead of the matchday thread, which will include ways to watch along with team sheets, which are released about an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us in the matchday thread--be sure to sign up for an account if you've been lurking so you can play along. Otherwise we'll just have to find you.

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