Friday 15 January 2016

Much maligned Fellaini could be key to Anfield victory

This is not the first time that Marouane Fellaini has been made something of a scapegoat for a patch of indifferent form for him and for United.

He was written off as a wasted £27.5 million when he signed under David Moyes, but won his critics over with a string of superb displays in March and April last year which included a dominant and bullying performance in our crucial win at Anfield.

He lined up in a more advanced role alongside Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera in a 4-3-3 formation last time we went to Liverpool and played a starring role in a bullying and dominant performance that paved the way for Juan Mata's memorable heroics. 

There were calls for him to be dropped for this match after a poor showing at Newcastle, but with  Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger both out injured, he looks set to start alongside Morgan Schneiderlin at the heart of the Reds engine room.

Not only will he likely start, he could also again defy his critics and prove United's potential match winner. 

Liverpool's glaring weakness is their seeming inability to adequately defend set-piece having conceded three goals from corners in recent weeks, including one directly at Exeter.
This would suggest that United's best chance of victory is to contain the hosts, then hit on the counter and look to score from set-pieces.

To do that, we should look to utilise Fellaini's height and physical presence- and against a makeshift Liverpool back line missing their first choice defenders, his dominance in the air looks our most potent source of grabbing a victory.

Whatever United's fans opinions of the big Belgian- and there are many- it is hard to deny that, in a side generally short of stature, he can prove credible nuisance value and a useful weapon in certain situations within a game. 

His best performances for United have tended to come in matches that really matter- four against Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and City stick out from last season, but he needs to be utilised further forward than his current defensive midfield performance if he is to find a repeat of that kind of form.

If I was Van Gaal, I'd be tempted to deploy the same 4-3-3 formation that worked such a treat last time.
Not only would it give us the balance we have needed but also it would also allow Fellaini more of a licence to push forward to join the attack with Morgan Schneiderlin taking care of defensive duties. 

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