England’s two most successful clubs lock horns this weekend and despite the sides no longer battling for the same goals their rivalry seems to be fiercer than ever. Manchester United and Liverpool funnily enough enjoyed their own spells of dominance throughout the years. United enjoyed success in the 50s and 60s, then Liverpool in the 70s and 80s and United again in the 90s and 00s.
Liverpool came close to winning the league recently in the 2008-2009 season but fell at the final hurdle and finished second – to none other than Manchester United. Not only did they pip Liverpool to the title they also equalled their rival’s record of 18 Premier League titles which was a prestigious and precious claim unique to them. Manchester United have now surpassed that number whilst Liverpool have had some troublesome years both on and off the pitch.
Recently, the Suarez-Evra situation added even more animosity to the fixture. This weekend the feeling around the tie will hopefully be different. It will be the first played at Anfield since the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed the cover-ups behind the tragedy 23 years ago. It was a tragedy which was felt throughout the footballing community and all rivalries and bitterness was put aside for the truly larger issue in-hand. Both managers have appealed to fans not to make chants about the incident in the build-up and during the game in the hope that there will be more respect for the incident and between fans. Despite being their biggest rivals, Manchester United truly understand tragedy in club after having lost eight players in the Munich air disaster in 1958 – they still commemorate those lost.
Once the whistle blows and the game kicks-off there will be that electric and unique atmosphere that few matches in the world can provide. Liverpool’s famous Kop will be singing their hearts out whilst the travelling Manchester United fans will be looking to be the twelfth man for their club. Liverpool have not lost in the last four home league fixtures against Manchester United, winning three and drawing one – BetVictor have priced a Liverpool win at 7/4 and considering the recent events and history it doesn’t look at bad price.
Manchester United will be looking for a win after having already dropped points earlier on in the season against Liverpool’s local rivals, Everton, and closing the gap on their city rivals, Manchester City. Regardless of the tragedy surrounding the match United will not be looking to do their bitterest rivals any favours and letting them register their first league win of the season. The arrival of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa will be added threat to Liverpool’s feeble defence this season and both players will be looking to adding to their scoring accounts.
With such an intense fixture it is always difficult to guarantee a winner despite recent form or fixture history. In their past five fixtures in all competitions between the clubs they are equal; both have won two fixtures and drawn the other. Although the draw has been the least prominent result between the two sides at Anfield since their first fixture in 1895 a mixture of the infamous Kop along with the added motive of playing Manchester United could force Liverpool to raise their game and give United a blow-for-blow battle.