Friday, September 12, 2008

Match Of The Day: Liverpool Vs Man Utd and Spirit Of Shankly Vs Gillett & Hicks

Before Liverpool take on Manchester United at 12.30 tomorrow a battle will take place at the famed Shankly Gates.

The Spirit of Shankly (SOS) are staging a protest against American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks. The American's inability to raise cash for a new stadium and with Manchester City taken over by Sheikh Mansour recently, the fans wish to vent their frustrations at DIC (Dubai International Corporation) not being allowed to buy the club.

Thousands of Liverpool supporters are expected to protest two hours before the match. The SOS have arranged to meet at 11.00am in Liverpool city centre and march to the Shankly Gates, where they hope their protests will be heard.

SOS also plan to lobby against Bank of Scotland in the hope that they wont lend money to Gillett and Hicks.

And with Jamie Carragher's declaration in his new biography that "we sold Liverpool to two ruthless business men who saw us as a money making opportunity," the SOS leaders believing they have supporters within the team their opinions will only be hardened.

Back on the pitch...

Rafael Benitez will have both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres available. Torres is expected to be fully fit after a slight hamstring tear while Gerrard controversially pulled out of the recent England squad to have an operation on an injury he had been carrying since the start of the season. How the England fans will react to seeing one of their star players fully fit is one thing, but Gerrard is sure to be welcomed back with open arms by the Anfield faithful.

Elsewhere Benitez has suggested that Albert Riera, Liverpool's newest acquisition, could make his debut against Utd. The left sided winger is highly rated across Europe and Benitez could try to expose Wes Brown's pace.

Benitez has also reacted to Alex Ferguson's assertions that £20m was too much for Robbie Keane by saying that at least Keane plays, whereas at last year's fixture Tevez, Hargreaves, and Nani sat on Utd's bench—for a combined total of £70m.

Robbie Keane also reacted to Ferguson's claim by wondering aloud "why doesn't John O'Shea play more? He's a great player." I don't think Ferguson would fall for that one, but high marks for trying Robbie.

Man Utd are expected to be at full strength and Ferguson has intimated that there could be a place in the starting line up for new signing Dimitar Berbatov. The ex-Spurs man scored 47 goals in 104 games at White Hart Lane and will be eager to repay some of the transfer fee.

If anyone benefits from Berbatov's presence it will be Wayne Rooney. He was brilliant against Croatia when paired with an authentic centre forward, and with Berbatov being a good bit better than Heskey, Man Utd fans will be relishing this partnership.

And with Javier Mascherano looking to pay back Benitez after his sending off in last year's fixture, tomorrow could prove to be one of the matches of the season. This week has already turned out to be one of the defining weeks for Liverpool, as they take on Marseille on Tuesday in the Champions League.

One would have Man Utd as slight favourites going into this game, especially with their past record over Liverpool. But if Gerrard and Torres are fully fit, and with Robbie Keane looking to prove he's worth £20m, tomorrow could be Liverpool's day both on and off the pitch.