Manchester United travel to Anfield in Saturday's lunchtime kick off with the KOP end gunning for Rooney.

 

It has long been credited the biggest fixture of the Premiership calendar and Saturday lunchtime the sparks are set to fly once again as Manchester United visit Anfield.

United have started the season in blistering form but lately have come off the tracks slightly, however they have still done enough to occupy the joint top position of the Premier League. The red side of Merseyside are arguably the most improved side in the past 12 months and under Kenny Dalglish that improvement can only continue.

It has to be noted that Manchester United have not won at Anfield in the last four years, as well as struggling against their fierce rivals at Old Trafford also. Sir Alex’s side will not have been aided by the recent negative press surrounding Wayne Rooney and his father, which obviously got under the striker’s skin in Montenegro.

Rooney’s actions in the English shirt during the week, is a prime example of the negative power the British media have over high their sporting heroes. The decision by UEFA to hand Rooney a three game ban will add further misery to the striker, and whether or not he wants to admit it; Sir Alex will have the striker’s mental state going into Saturday’s clash in the back of his mind.

It could go either way for the united talisman i.e. he could come out all guns blazing and put in the performances we’ve seen so far this season, or he could come out kicking and play right into the Kop’s hands. Both way the Liverpool fans will be waiting for Rooney on Saturday, and it will be a stern test of his mental state of mind.

On the other hand, United have other players in top form that can make the difference for them at Anfield. Ashley Young, Nani and Welbeck, are all on top form, while Hernandez and Owen always have a goal in them. Sir Alex also has his first choice defensive pairing available in Ferdinand and Vidic, while he also has Phil Jones in the form of his life to deploy at right back.

But Liverpool fans have also a case for optimism heading into the crunch encounter. Steven Gerrard is set to start for the first time this season, and Kenny Dalglish has stated the Liverpool captain is as fit as ever. The Scotsman has taken his time in bringing the Liverpool legend back into action and one can only imagine that this game has been earmarked for Gerrard’s return for some time.

Similar to United, Liverpool is no one man team and has players in fine form. Charlie Adam has slotted into the midfield with ease and could form a formidable link playing behind Gerrard. Stewart Downing and Lucas have also been impressive for Liverpool in midfield, while Suarez has been prolific so far this season. Andy Carroll’s goal two weekends ago will have done him the world of good and don’t be surprised if he troubles United’s back four should he be called upon.

It will be interesting to see the team selection by both Scottish managers in particular the approach they take from kick off. It would not be surprising to see both teams start with a 4-4-1-1 formation and cancel each other out from the start. On the other hand, it has the potential to be a fiery atmosphere which could lead to mistakes at the back for both sides and provide plenty of goals.

With the negative publicity and current animosity surrounding Wayne Rooney, the United man was always going to take centre stage at Anfield, as was the returning Gerrard. The Liverpool captain has been out of the limelight for some time and he will be out to remind Liverpool fans and a certain Fabio Capello of what he is all about.

One thing’s for sure; we can expect a fiery atmosphere at Anfield this Saturday as the backlash of Rooney’s UEFA ban comes to the surface and the Liverpool fans smelling blood.