Up until last week’s match against Olympiakos, Manchester United’s deadly duo of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney had not exactly been deadly this term – at least not in terms of their partnership.
And when you consider that one number 10 – Shinji Kagawa – regularly sat on the bench while another – Juan Mata – was played out of position more often than not, it was clear that while David Moyes had a whole host of quality attackers, he had not found the formation that allowed them to thrive.
Van Persie and Rooney clicked against the Greek side in a way that they have not for much of the campaign. But apart from that match, United have looked closer to their free-flowing best when van Persie has not been in the side – most recently against West Ham United, but also away to West Bromwich Albion, when Danny Welbeck showed that the importance of energy cannot be understated.
With van Persie missing for the next month, Moyes has the chance to play Rooney and Mata as an attacking pair on a consistent basis.
Against West Ham it looked like being an instant success, and there is another chance for the two to show what they can do against Manchester City this evening.
And if Moyes wants to see how effective picking the right front-two and sticking with them can be, he need only look at the side that beat them at Old Trafford recently.
This Liverpool side have showed that understanding each other’s game, becoming a collective, playing together week-in-week-out, creates more than just familiarity, it can also lead to huge success.
In van Persie and Rooney, Moyes has two forwards who are undeniably among the best in the game, but can they form the devastating partnership that will see United challenging again?
With Rooney up front and Mata behind, Moyes could ultimately have a front-two every bit as effective as Liverpool’s SAS; because the Reds’ ongoing success is as much down to the understanding between the two as it is in their terrifying talent.