Wayne Rooney has been ruled out of Manchester United’s clash against Liverpool at Old Trafford this Sunday. Nani and Anderson are back in the squad after recovering from hamstring problems. How will their return to the action boost United?
In the case of Nani nobody can be sure. Sadly the enigmatic Portuguese winger has suffered a disappointing year and a half going back to the consistently inconsistent form that he was in prior to the dazzling form he showed in the second-half of the 2009/10 season, when he appeared to have turned the back on his cloudy form for good.
This season due to injuries and loss-of-form his season has never really got going. He has only scored twice this year across 11 appearances in a season of lows. First there was his weak missed-penalty at home to Galatasaray in the Champions League and then his inability to hold up the ball in the dying seconds of United’s League Cup tie at Stamford Bridge.
With the clock running down all Nani had to do was hold up the ball or find a team-mate in the final quarter of Chelsea’s half to see out the game. However Nani lost the ball, Chelsea broke clear and shortly after winning a free-kick won a penalty which was converted by Eden Hazard with the Blues going onto win the dramatic tie 5-4 after extra time.
Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t happy, after losing a game that his side should have won and publically blamed Nani for his part in Chelsea’s equaliser. Was it a way of Sir Alex trying to motivate the winger to get his game back in order or was he just angry.
Either way Nani shortly got injured and has been out of the team since. It would be a massive risk to put him back into the team for such a big fixture. Liverpool will be up for the game and they’d love nothing more than to put a dent in United’s title-challenge.
In last year’s league clash at Old Trafford, Liverpool put in a good effort and made United work hard for their victory. Whilst it would be a surprise if Nani were to start ahead of Ashley Young on the left-flank, imagine the confidence he would get if he was chosen to start, knowing full-well that his manager believes in him to perform in such a big game on his return from injury.
Even if he were to make a cameo from the bench, it would be a great way to chuck Nani back in the deep-end. If the rumours are true that he’s after a bigger contract then there’s no better way for him to show his manager why he should get one than by going out on the pitch and putting in star displays until contract talks are resolved.
It will be good to see Anderson back. He was performing well before his injury and his tenacity and energy in the middle has been missed despite United’s good form. The Brazilian midfielder keeps the game ticking and up until his injury had been forming well in the middle of the park alongside Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley with his performance off the bench against QPR earning rave reviews from fans and the man most important of all Sir Alex.
On form United should beat Liverpool. However Liverpool are a dangerous side. Luis Suarez can rip apart any defence. Steven Gerrard whilst not the force he was once seemingly never plays badly in this fixture. Even someone like Stewart Downing can’t be written off. Just like Nani he is need of a big performance to secure his club-future and he could make himself a hero and get back on-board with the Liverpool fans by shining this weekend.
United should win by two goals but cannot afford to start poorly and go behind, something that would certainly play into the hands of Brendan Rodgers’s side.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87