Saturday 21 March 2015 15:54, UK
Liverpool need captain Steven Gerrard in their starting line-up for their crucial clash with Manchester United, according to Jamie Redknapp...
Sunday sees Liverpool and Manchester Untied meet at Anfield in probably the biggest game between these two clubs in an awfully long time. Victory for either side would mean so much in the race for a top-four spot.
Given everything that’s at stake, Brendan Rodgers must start Steven Gerrard.
I know that on Monday Night Football Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher said they’d stick with the in-form Joe Allen but, for me, there’s no way you can leave Gerrard out of this one.
That’s got nothing to do with sentimentality and this being Gerrard’s last game for Liverpool against United. And I’ve got nothing against Joe Allen, who is a player I like and a player who has been playing well.
But ask every Manchester United player whether they’d rather play against Gerrard or Allen this weekend, and none of them would say Gerrard.
Just look at Liverpool’s win over Swansea on Monday night. Brendan Rodgers got a lot of praise for the way he changed tactics in that game but Gerrard, when he came on, got hold of the game in a way no one else can.
He got on the ball and changed the way Liverpool played. All of a sudden the pace of Liverpool’s passing went up a notch.
Gerrard is a leader and these are the games when Liverpool need him in their team. It would be a mistake by Rodgers not to start him on Sunday.
Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester United in December has turned out to be a pivotal moment in their season. For that game Rodgers changed their system and since then they’ve gone undefeated in the Premier League, winning 10 out of 13.
That run has taken them to within two points of fourth-placed United and – regardless of my allegiances – I feel their current form will prove too much for Louis van Gaal’s side this weekend.
These are the games when Liverpool need Steven Gerrard in their team.
I’ve been so impressed with what Rodgers has done, from the system change to the players he’s brought in and the energy they’re playing with. And I think Liverpool, with their pace, are set up so well to play against United. Daley Blind at left-back – despite playing well against Tottenham – could get exposed by Raheem Sterling or Lazar Markovic.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how Van Gaal adapts his team to take on Liverpool. He came here with a huge reputation and he hasn’t lived up to it yet.
He will have looked at that Swansea game and seen how, in the first half, they dominated Liverpool and he’ll know his United team must dominate the ball in the same way to win the match. We’re going to find out how good Van Gaal is this weekend and I can't wait to see what formula he comes up with to try to counter Liverpool.
Marouane Fellaini could be a key figure for United. He’s not going to become an Old Trafford legend but he’s been their best player in the past five or six weeks and could cause Liverpool problems.
However, I’ve got a feeling Liverpool will be too quick, too strong and have too much for United. I’m going for a 2-1 Liverpool win.
Liverpool are in such good form and the crowd will be up for this one. Three points for them will move them above United and that will be an important change at the top – although you feel there are still more turns to come in this race for a Champions League place.
Watch Liverpool v Manchester United live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 12.30pm on Sunday