Whenever Manchester United and Liverpool meet each other on the pitch, it’s always a big occasion, even if the competition that serves as the background for the extension of this rivalry, the League cup, isn’t big in any way.
It’s hard to decide for which team and manager the clash is bigger. Manchester United don’t do well in the competition because it’s an opportunity to use younger players and squad misfits, usually causing early round disappointments. However, the pressure on Moyes is growing after the defeat in the derby match, so even though he has a pretty deep squad and some players he has to start using (Kagawa, Chicharito and possibly even Nani), he might play it safe and go for the strongest lineup he has in his mind to avoid complications.
Liverpool need the League Cup more than their rivals because their chances of achieving European qualification aren’t as great through the league, despite the promising start that has begun to fade away in any case. However, Rodgers doesn’t have the privilege of his rivals in terms of squad rotation and giving rest to some key players, and there’s pressure on him to come up with the right lineup, tactically, after the debacle against Southampton.
One name that will draw more attention than anyone will be that of Luis Suarez, who has now ended his suspension for tasting Branislav Ivanovic. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll start for Liverpool, but he’ll definitely be used at some point or another, with Liverpool sorely missing his scoring and creativity, especially when the man filling in for him and Philippe Coutinho is Iago Aspas, who hasn’t made much of his arrival to a new club.
Suarez has done well in terms of scoring against Manchester United in the past, but it was Daniel Sturridge who gave Liverpool their only goal in the 1-0 win at Anfield not too long ago. It was an efficient performance from Liverpool, who gave up on trying to dominate the match in the second half, something that’s happened quite too often for them this season, dropping back a bit too far in order to preserve a lead.
For David Moyes, who probably learned a thing or two from getting thrashed against Manchester City, being on the sidelines against Liverpool hasn’t always been the most pleasant of encounters, rarely winning. However, he has a lot more tools at his disposal this time, and if he opts to control the midfield instead of trying to make Danny Welbeck emulate Robin van Persie, he has a much better chance of silencing all of the background noise directed at him.