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FA Cup Preview: Manchester United v Liverpool

Liverpool travel to the historic Old Trafford

Manchester United will be looking to take solid league form into the FA Cup against one of the club’s biggest rivals.

United come off the back of a well fought 2-1 win over Stoke City in the Premier League and Sir Alex Ferguson will be asking for more of the same. Liverpool have struggled all season long under the management of Roy Hodgson but there is little doubt that they form a banana skin of epic proportions.

The responsibility of leading the United attack is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Dimitar Berbatov. Wayne Rooney missed the Stoke match due to an ankle injury and there is no guarantee he’ll be fit in time to face Liverpool owing to the lack of recovery time.

Ferguson may well opt for a 4-5-1 against Liverpool because of the potential power, and unpredictability, that the Merseyside club possesses. However, Javier Hernandez seems ready for another run in the side if Rooney doesn’t recover in time and Ferguson decides to favour a 4-4-2.

Rooney is not the only injury worry that Ferguson has ahead of the game with Rio Ferdinand and Edwin Van Der Saar both serious doubts for the clash. Tomasz Kuszczak seems to be relishing his chance to play in goal and one of Johnny Evans or Chris Smalling should cover in defence.

On a more positive note for United, Nani returned to first team action in emphatic fashion against Stoke scoring a great goal. Nani will play down one of the wings against Liverpool, which will take a lot of pressure away from the likes of Ryan Giggs.

Giggs himself is the favourite to start down the opposite flank as Nani but the Welshman is due a rest after playing in United’s last few games. Giggs is not getting any younger but Ferguson may have little choice other than to risk him for this game as Park Ji-Sung is still away on international duty with South Korea.

If Giggs does play then it will mean that Ferguson can risk a more adventurous central midfield pairing as the experienced winger can come across and cover. Any two from Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Darron Gibson could play against Liverpool. However, Ferguson will want Anderson to play along side someone as the Brazilian is one of the club’s most creative players.

The only other major injury worries that Ferguson has are long-term. Antonio Valencia is not being rushed back after dislocating and breaking his ankle in a Champions League match earlier in the season. Owen Hargreaves continues his long recovery from knee and hamstring problems.

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