Sunday is a big day for the Premier League lovers as two of the oldest rivals clash against each other.
Liverpool travel to Manchester United to face their staunch enemies and for the first time in many years it is the Red Devils who are playing for pride and Liverpool for something to win.
Liverpool are now in third position in the league, a clear eleven points above Manchester United and they intend to keep up the pressure on the top two for the championship. United, on the other hand, have much to prove to their fans as they have faltered this season time and again and a win against the Merseyside club would save some of the criticisms for David Moyes.
Now the big question remains as to who among Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen would Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers prefer for the tie?
Sterling has been one of the best players of the club and he has prompted many to rename the SAS partnership as SSS, signifying Suarez-Sturridge-Sterling. He has shown a marked improvement from last year, where he fizzed out after making such a promising debut at the beginning of the season.
This year he has increased his physical presence on the pitch, has dribbled past defenders, has fought with the sturdy wingbacks neck to neck and has always been a threat in front of the goal. Sterling has so far scored 6 goals this season with an average pass accuracy of 81%. Most importantly he has created 32 chances in total for the deadly duo in front of him and thus Liverpool have been a threat each time the three have combined in the opposition half.
Sterling has brought an element of raw pace in the side which has made Liverpool a delight to watch. England manager Roy Hodgson had kept eye on Sterling throughout the season and had given him first team opportunity in the friendly against Denmark.
But all these have not come without a price. Liverpool have faltered too many times in the defence and have conceded way too many goals that a title winning side should concede.
Much of their defensive fragility has come from the fact that the team has lacked a central defender who would be able to drop back and help the team in times of needs.
Rodgers has employed captain Steven Gerrard in that role this season and although the skipper has done a more than decent job, it is to be understood that it is not his natural position and there are times when he has given away the possession cheaply, which has in turn resulted in a goal.
Now till the time that Liverpool were not considered a title challenger, the pressure on Rodgers was far less to grind out a result and he could afford to concentrate only on beautiful football. But in the changed scenario, he must get those 1-0 wins on a chilly evening to keep up the pursuit of the title and hence the need to compromise a bit on his brand of football.
Here comes the necessity of Joe Allen, who was Rodgers’ signature signing last summer from Swansea. Rodgers believes that Allen would provide the central midfield with the rigidity that it requires and it is one of the primary reasons why he fielded Allen before Sterling in the away match against Southampton.
What the boss will do tomorrow is yet to be found out, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the young gun Sterling is sacrificed for Allen for the sake of the result. After all how much Rodgers may deny following Jose’s principles, it should be kept in mind that he was once the assistant of the Special One.