Saturday, March 14, 2009

Manchester United vs Liverpool Showdown

Top-of-the-table Manchester United host Liverpool on Saturday in what has been billed by many as a Barclays Premier League title decider. (source: BBC Football)

Sir Alex Ferguson's United have a seven-point lead over the Reds and Chelsea, and victory would all but give them an 11th league title under the Scot.

Liverpool are seeking their first league crown in 19 years but a post-Christmas slump saw then lose ground. Nevertheless, victory would give their fans hope.

Liverpool's great Ian Rush and United's legend Peter Schmeichel views on the two heavyweights follows:

Rush on the Torres factor

Fernando Torres is quick, can shoot with both feet and is good in the air: in short, he's the complete striker.

The best thing about him is his strong mental attitude. We know foreign players have got great technique, but the fans demand a toughness and he has that in abundance.

Torres is the type of player Liverpool have been after for many years. The fans have taken him to their hearts and he's like a breath of fresh air for them.

Rush on Gerrard and the Reds midfield

Steven Gerrard reminds me of Graeme Souness. He's a great leader and lifts everyone around him.

Like Souness, Gerrard also has a great shot and can guarantee 15 to 20 goals a year.

His fellow midfielders are pretty useful too. Benitez can count on Javier Mascherano to sit deep and Xabi Alonso has started to play well again.

I was also impressed with Ryan Babel playing on the left against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Rush on Man Utd's attack

Where do you start? They've got Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov...

But I'm singling out Carlos Tevez. He doesn't play regularly but when he does, his work-rate is incredible.

Tevez is a great example to youngsters who sulk when they don't play every week.

They should look at Tevez, who always puts 100% into his performance and is always likely to come up with a goal.

Schmeichel on Edwin van der Sar

Edwin van der Sar is one of the best signings Sir Alex Ferguson has made.

It took him a while to sign that kind of keeper. On the way there were guys who created problems, not solved them.

The way United play, you need a strong defence. You need a keeper who can play outside the box and read the game well.

Van der Sar is committed when he comes out and very strong in the air. He does all the nitty gritty but to a high level.

Schmeichel on United's centre-backs

United's defence has evolved into the best in the world and the key was the signing of Nemanja Vidic. He's become the most important player in the side.

Vidic has shown his centre-back partner Rio Ferdinand the value of just clearing the ball away when under pressure and has given everyone so much confidence to play further up the pitch.

And the youngster Jonny Evans has come in for Vidic or Ferdinand at times and done a brilliant job.

Schmeichel on the Liverpool defence

Liverpool do not have the luxury of picking from a big pool of top players but Rafa Benitez has put his trust in Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel at centre-back and it's a partnership that has worked well.

I'm a big fan of goalkeeper Pepe Reina. He's been one of Benitez's best signings and his distribution is second to none.

The defence were impressive against Real Madrid, but that was partly down to the team display. United will provide a stiffer test.

Schmeichel's verdict

It's a very important game, but not one we have to win to clinch the league.

If we lose on Saturday, then it won't make make a big difference to our chances. I know a setback won't damage confidence.

Liverpool will have been thinking United have been playing very well but Ferguson said he was disappointed after beating Inter Milan.

He's told his players that he will not accept giving the opposition so many chances - this match is important to him.

Rush's verdict

It's a game Liverpool can't afford to lose.

It's vital we can get something out of the game, which would also give Chelsea the belief that they can catch United. We beat them 2-1 at Anfield and the team have to believe they can do it again.

United have it easy at the moment because they hold a decent lead - they can get back on track even if they lose.

It's important Liverpool try to do something to stop them winning the league.

Your verdict? Leave a comment below..