Week 29 may have seen the beginning of the end for the title race but the Champions League race still looks the biggest drama to come. Looking ahead what questions do you have.
Q1 - Can the Red Devils withstand the red tide at Anfield?
This week's big game and still the biggest match of the season as a United fan regardless of league position is upon us. As a child Liverpool won everything and seemingly most of the big games that mattered between clubs. Into my adulthood and the roles were switched. Now both clubs sit on the tails of the title race trying to rebuild former glory.
The game is a Champions league qualification 6 pointer and should be an amazing atmosphere for a Sunday lunch (UK time) kick-off. Form and home advantage favours Liverpool. Despite losing their star player Luis Suarez in the summer, the fitness of their captain Steven Gerrard and of course main forward Daniel Sturridge for most of the season they are still right in the battle for top 4 or better.
Brendan Rodgers played with his systems but his side has settled well with 3 at the back and no side is in better form in the Premier League right now. When I watch them they never ever look secure but their defence their stats shoot this view down. Prior to the Swansea game in all competitions Liverpool have conceded 11 goals in 18 games with 9 clean sheets. That's title challenging defensive form.
United meanwhile have almost played with every system known to man (and our awesome FL girl of course). Currently LVG has understood the value of playing his best outfield player in his best position and Utd had perhaps their season best performance last time against Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs were terrible true, as bad as Utd were good but results do breed confidence. Comparing defence, Utd have conceded 8 goals in 15 games in all competitions keeping 7 cleans sheets. However 3 of those clean sheets were against Yeovil Town and Cambridge Utd.
Looking ahead there are couple of points I think may be influential in the outcome. Spurs played the entire game with the football in front of the Utd back line. Rarely if ever did they feed a ball into the channels or over the top as they lacked the pace/movement to make benefit of the plan. This tactic is a big part of the Rodgers system. Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Phillip Coutinho will all provide problems if Utd choose to press up on the opposition as they did against Spurs.
For the Utd the positive was the attacking trio down the left hand side of Daley Blind, Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini. They caused havoc in the opening 45mins and we are not talking Dennis Irwin, Ryan Giggs and Erci Cantona here. When you consider Blind and co are not especially good at beating a player with skill nor pace - young has his moments - then they had to do this with drive aggression and movement. Whether they can duplicate the pattern against the superior Pool system we will see.
Rodgers will have noted these points and I suspect Sterling's role will be adapted to both issues. Playing him at right wing back could mean he can pin Blind back but risk leaving the left hand Liverpool CB exposed to the Young Fellaini double team. I would think it much more likely they utilise Sterling pace alongside/behind Sturridge against the Utd defence who operate poorly when facing pace and movement. Jordan Henderson could then find himself in the wing back role with his energy and work rate a match for Blind, Young and co. Further his developing signs of responsibility should help protect his vulnerable left hand side from a positional sense.
This and last season's European adventures have shown a league lacking world class quality. The flip side is that these games very much become about who plays well or more likely makes the least mistakes on the day. Both defences fail to convince me and Utd just don't create many chances. Against Spurs Utd scored with their only 3 sot and had 11 efforts in total. A 3-0 win would normally see aside fire 20ish efforts in a game. For all the good improvement they lost when it mattered v Chelsea and huffed and puffed against Blackburn Rovers in the cup.
The head says that the spurs results have papered over the Man Utd cracks. The young vibrant attacking Liverpool team has outplayed Chelsea and Manchester City in recent games. Utd have been very poor away from Old Trafford so with home advantage you have to like Liverpool's win chances. Perhaps like the Arsenal/Southampton away games for Utd but with the home team taking their chances. But the heart? Well the heart says we can starve supply to the Liverpool fast front line. We know Utd have shown they can dig results out and can smash and grab the points on the break (maybe Angel Di Maria off the bench).
Whatever the result will have a big role in who takes those top 4 spots.
Chelsea haven't been in bad form just not the flowing football and results of earlier in the season. With no distractions they should have little trouble winning the league from this point but will want to do so with a flourish.
At first glance Hull seem to fit the bill and with not one single player you fear and midfield playmaker Tom Huddlestone suspended, Chelsea could put on a show. Costa got back in the goals against Southampton and Hazard is consistently good.
A closer look has Hull conceding just 6 in their last 6 at home. Chelsea have scored 14 in their last 6 away games. Perhaps more tempting is their goal scored with just 7 in the last 6 homes. Failing to score against Leicester is a sign they offer little threat coming forward.
If Chelsea are to put in a 4-0 type win who should we be on this week?
Eden Hazard £16.78m
Diego Costa £13.05m
Cesc Fabregas £11.08m
Branaslav Ivanovic £11.79m
John Terry £10.15m
Nemanja Matic £4.44m
Q3 - With Gus Poyet sacked and the Sunderland team in free-fall are West Ham our best bet this week?
The writing was on the wall for Poyet but boy did he go out with a whimper. Aston Villa had scored just 4 away all season but promptly put 4 goals past Sunderland in one half.
The Hammers took a 3 nil beating of their own and also have a bunch of fans unhappy with their manager's tactics rather than results. We need to be wary with West Ham safe in mid table, more so should Sunderland appoint a new manager in the next day or so. But that seems unlikely and there may be more to Sunderland's troubles we have yet to see.
Teams rarely get smashed week to week spending the whole week learning how to keep their shape and worse park the bus. Regardless Aaron Cresswell is a certain starter in my side week 30. Diafra Sahko, the Stall curse Sterwart Dowing (he never does well when I pick him) Enner Valencia all tempt. Adrian is down to £5.53m but we have that one shot one goal concern in this fixture.
Will you load up on happy Hammers?
Q4 - So can you brag this week?
Which of you superstar managers picked Leighton Baines 26pts or Romelu Lukaku 24pts in week 29? How about that man who had Gabby Agbonlahor's 22pts.
Go on let us know and tell us all how much joy it brought you.
Q5 - Poll time - In a tough week, which of these keepers should we pick this week?