Liverpool vs Manchester United
It is unquestionably the biggest fixture in English football and, quite possibly, the world.
Matches simply don’t come any bigger than between these two clubs – English football’s most successful by a country mile and the two most prestigious clubs in the English game.
So sit back and hold on tight. There’s only one encounter with the potential to create Premier League news in its own right this weekend.
That the rivalry has never diminished, even when one club was dominating and the other faring poorly, is testament to that.
Manchester United even used to pull in the biggest crowds in the country during their sole season in the former Division Two in 1974/75.
And ask a fan of either club what it means to them and you will be left in no doubt.
Yes, the outcome of this season’s Premier League title race is pretty much known and, barring the collapse of all collapses, Liverpool will end their title drought which stretches all but 30 years.
But while this weekend’s result is unlikely to change anything – the Merseysiders are on course to cruise to the title and United likely to miss out on a lucrative top four finish for the second successive season – it doesn’t mean the match is of any less importance to either side.
As it stands, Liverpool have overtaken United as top dog and are threatening to embark on a run which could see the team assembled by coach Jurgen Klopp as one of the best in the club’s illustrious history.
United are some way from that or matching their more recent predecessors which, until the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, dominated the landscape themselves.
Yet while this SBOTOP writer thinks this United side is the weakest he has seen in 30 years, it was still capable of being the only side to take points off the runaway league leaders in the first half of this campaign.
Can they do so again?
The form guide suggests not.
United will be major underdogs, while Liverpool could be boosted by potential returns for trio Joel Matip, Fabinho and Dejan Lovren.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicted it at the start of the season but some fans are beginning to become incredibly frustrated with the way the team’s form changes on a weekly basis.
In the space of three days last month, United beat both Tottenham and Manchester City, but then drew at home to an average Everton side and lost to then bottom of the table Watford.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have seen off nearly all before them so far.
While they have been rested and had time to recharge after their impressive victory over Spurs last weekend, highly inconsistent United have been in midweek action, their squad already strained by the absences of the likes of club record signing Paul Pogba and tenacious young midfielder Scott McTominay (missing since Boxing Day).
Will that really count for anything this weekend? Who knows. Liverpool are overwhelming favourites but last season remains the only time they have beaten United at Anfield in five years.
When these two clash – league position often counts for little!
Last season this fixture was Xherdan Shaqiri’s finest moment in a Liverpool shirt as two deflected strikes won the game for the home side and, ultimately, paved the way for Jose Mourinho’s dismissal as manager two days later.
That was only Liverpool’s second victory against United in 12 attempts in the Premier League.
Overall, United have won 88 of their meetings in all competitions. Liverpool have 77 successes and there have been 67 draws – that’s as close as you would probably expect for the two dominant forces in English football.
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