Amid all of the hyperbole, there are several men with a point to prove this Sunday at Old Trafford. We look at the competitors whose work so far this season has not been up to scratch.
Mr Rooney has filled more column inches than the Iraq war in recent weeks and will be champing at the bit to make headlines for the right reasons. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to omit him from the Everton match was a strange one and suggests that the young striker’s temperament may still be suspect. He could bring Liverpool’s defence to its knees, he could just as easily be sent off for something unnecessary.
‘Diabolical, just diabolical’, those were the words used to describe Torres by former Liverpool midfielder and Tv pundit Jamie Redknapp this week. A man widely regarded as the world’s most lethal striker 18 months ago has had a miserable run with injuries and played like my nan during the World Cup. He looks an extremely unhappy figure at Anfield right now but maybe a reunion with Nemanja Vidic will stir him up again. His attitude is seriously in question.
In the same way that Buddhism is the nice guy on the religious shelf, Roy Hodgson is seen as the nice chap amongst the grim gallery of Premier League managers. He is not, however, a proven bloodthirsty winner. The jury remains firmly out on his appointment at Anfield and after Liverpool were dismantled by Manchester City the fans will be desperate for a result to cheer.
Woy. Nice bloke. Dodgy hair.(C) Getty
Four games into the season and Berbatov is finally looking like the awe-inspiring £30million player he is supposed to be. He is still yet to turn it on in a big game and this is his chance. It is unlikely the Bulgarian will ever be spotted tracking back but if he can score a goal or two in this fixture he will go a long way to improving his standing with the fans.
Rio has been in and out of the team for the last 16 months and the questions over his fitness are fast becoming resigned shrugs of shoulders. After United’s late, late no-shows against Fulham and Everton he will be expected to marshal the defence better that it has been in his absence. No longer a spring chicken, but surely keen to prove he isn’t past-it yet either.