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Liverpool vs Man Utd: Battle of the Reds
September 11, 2008 11:15 IST
Liverpool's challenge for their first league title since 1990 gets its first real test of the season on Saturday when they seek to end a dire series of Anfield results against champions Manchester United [Images].
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United manager Alex Ferguson said this week that he expected United to soon overhaul Liverpool's record of 18 league titles, and since his team have won 10 of their 17 since Liverpool's last triumph, it is not exactly a wild prediction.
Liverpool fans are extremely unhappy about the prospect and, despite their continued European success, their regular failure to mount a serious domestic league challenge hangs above the club like a dark cloud.
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"The fans are screaming out for it, the players want it and we need to deliver," captain Steven Gerrard said this week.
"If we're out of the race again come January or February, there will be a lot of unhappy people around here.
"The city will explode if we win the league, and I don't want it to happen when I'm retired."
Gerrard, who had surgery to fix a groin problem last week, is unlikely to make the game where both sides will expect to improve on some hesitant early-season displays.
Liverpool have lost five and drawn one of their last six home league games against United and have not managed a league goal against them at Anfield for almost five years.
"Over the last couple of years we've gone into games against United and Chelsea very organised tactically - defensive if you like - and still lost 1-0." Gerrard said.
"It's important a few risks are taken to try to score that goal against these teams because it gives you such a psychological boost."
With Fernando Torres also likely to miss out with a hamstring strain, Liverpool will hope Robbie Keane returns energised from his Ireland duties and ready to find the target for the first time following his move from Tottenham Hotspur.
Keane's former Spurs strike partner Dimitar Berbatov is also set to feature in the game, making his debut for United after his deadline-day move. The pair equally shared 46 goals for the London [Images] club last season.
Manchester City, itching to start punching their new-found monetary weight following their takeover, face fellow arrivistes Chelsea at Eastlands.
Robinho, City's shock acquisition from Real Madrid [Images], is unlikely to play a full match as he was scheduled to be in action in Brazil [Images] against Bolivia on Wednesday but he might make a cameo appearance from the bench.
Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari [Images] said that Didier Drogba [Images], who has not played since last May's Champions League final defeat by Manchester United because of a knee injury, could be fit to play for 45 minutes.
Michael Essien is out for most of the season with knee ligament damage and Michael Ballack [Images] is still struggling with an ankle problem, opening the midfield door for Jon Obi Mikel.
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