Football: The Premier League’s two hottest goalscorers go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday, as Manchester United host arch-rvials Liverpool.
United’s Robin van Persie and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez are curently embroiled in a battle at the summit of the leading goalscorers’ table, with 16 and 15 Premier League strikes respectively.
And though United and van Persie are favourites to emerge victorious from the grudge match, Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson said they would be taking nothing for granted.
“It is Liverpool,” said Ferguson. A derby game. That never changes. It is always an immensely important game.
“It is intense and emotional. Everything you can think of in a derby game will probably be there on Sunday.”
And while the wily Scot went on to claim that his defenders would be given no particular brief for dealing with Suarez, he also hailed the impact made by van Persie since his £24 million summer move from Arsenal.
“It was a lot of money for a player in the last year of his contract,” said Ferguson. “But the thing about it is — as it proved with Manchester City the year before when they paid £24 million for Samir Nasri — you either want him or you don’t. We wanted him badly, so we were prepared to go the extra mile.”
Ferguson has Nani and Anderson available after their respective hamstring injuries, offering United additional options in both midfield and the wide positions.
But Wayne Rooney is still out after suffering a knee injury in training on Christmas Day, while Phil Jones is unlikely to play a part.
Daniel Sturridge is in contention for a Premier League debut for Liverpool.
The former Chelsea striker was on target against Mansfield in the FA Cup and Brendan Rodgers may opt to deploy his blistering pace against a relatively slow United backline. Steven Gerrard, Jose Reina and Glen Johnson should return.
Meanwhile Liverpool have agreed an out-of-court settlement with former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over the sale of the club in 2010.