If you ever had to predict which game, come Monday morning, will be the talk of the office water cooler after a weekend of Barclays Premier League football, you’d be mad not to opt with Saturday lunchtime’s Liverpool-Manchester United clash.
With 36 league titles between them, with Liverpool resurgent under Kenny Dalglish and Wayne Rooney staring down the barrel of a barrage of abuse following his England humiliation at the ground of the old enemy, all the ingredients are there for a tempestuous affair littered with entertainment.
Given United’s cavalier attitude, and the prospect of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez being partnered together, we’d be forgiven for expecting a barnstorming encounter.
As ever, given the prestige of the two clubs, they both dominate the build up to the resumption of the Premier League, but two clubs have been overlooked when it comes to predicting a potential mid-Autumn cracker.
At St James’ Park, fourth placed Newcastle United host Tottenham Hotspur, currently in fifth.
Newcastle, are in their highest league position under Alan Pardew and currently hold the longest unbeaten run in the league, stretching back to last season, while Tottenham Hotspur have won their last four league games and have recently seen to both Liverpool and Arsenal.
Not convinced? Still blinded by the glitz of the Anfield fixture? Let GMF point you in the right direction.
1. Sitting Pretty
Both possess as good a form as any of the top three. As previously mentioned, Newcastle are unbeaten since being toppled by Liverpool during the back end of last season, while Tottenham have won their last four league games, scoring 10 goals, all after heavy defeats to the Manchester duo. The Toon are in their highest position in the reign of Alan Pardew, and their form is proving to be a welcome distraction away from the fans’ despondency with the current ownership. In such form, neither side are liable to disappoint.
2. African attack
The duo’s ability to thrill makes them a must watch. A year on from Africa hosting its first World Cup, it’s two natives that spearhead these two sides’ attacks. For Newcastle, gangly Demba Ba has hit the goal trail, scoring four in his last two games to justify Pardew’s decision not to replace Andy Carroll with a big money signing. For Spurs, on loan striker Emmanuel Adebayor is proving to be a big hit, despite his Arsenal connections. His introduction to the team has coincided with the side’s winning run, which has seen Adebayor contribute three goals and two assists. Forget Suarez and Rooney, nothing should distract these two.
3. Good books
It may be littered with classic encounters, but in truth Liverpool-Manchester United clashes have always had a regular theme; copious red cards. There was only one between the two sides in their three meetings last season, for Steven Gerrard in the FA Cup, but Jamie Carragher’s horrendous tackle on Nani and Rafael’s lunge on Lucas saw last season’s Anfield fixture dominated by controversy. Javier Mascherano and Nemanja Vidic have both been dismissed on multiple occasions in these fixtures, incidents that can work to ruin games of such magnitude. Neither the Magpies or Spurs have seen red this season and are among the cleanest in the division so far this season. Don't expect fracas to disrupt this one.
4. Best of British
In Alan Pardew and Harry Redknapp you have two of the more pleasant and gracious managers in the Premier League. Both media friendly, both honest, despite what you think about the puppeteer skills of Mike Ashley, and neither worried about accepting defeat. In Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson we have two men who never know when they're wrong. Whether it be Dalglish’s sly remarks and hypocrisy or Ferguson’s lambasting of officials and journalists, neither will go quietly.
5. Gareth Bale
The cherry on top. The fact that we haven’t seen the best of Bale this season may be a tribute to Spurs' four-match winning run, but we’re due a reminder that the Welshman is so much more than what we saw at the San Siro. Two goals for Wales in the recent international break proves he’s still as clinical as ever, but the way he gets at Danny Simpson, faultless at the back for the Magpies this term, could dictate the result come Sunday evening.