The rivalry between United and Liverpool has to be one of the fiercest in football history.
It’s the first fixture date looked for by fans of the rival clubs, and also one of the most anticipated in the English football calender.
It can be argued that Manchester-Liverpool rivalry dates back to the industrial revolution when Liverpool’s port thrived and Manchester built the ship canal connecting them to the Irish Sea, increasing commercial opportunity and providing Liverpool with a rival for industrial competition.
Two teams with fantastic history, both domestically and in Europe, share a lot in common. Influential managers, world class players with legendary status in the club and a past that has both tragedy and triumph.
Some may argue the rivalry is down to the fact that the teams, the fans, the passion and the pride are very similar. Rivalry is bread in both sets of fans from the start, and the dislike is easily matched by the amount of respect.
Rival games this intense can leave fans reaching the highest of the highs helped by a side order of Schadenfreude, or the lowest of the lows with salt in the wounds of having your biggest rivals celebrating victory.
Liverpool dominated domestic football in the 70’s & 80’s that left United with a mountain to climb in order to reach the level of their Northwest rivals.
In the last twenty years, United, inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson’s pledge to knock Liverpool off their perch, rose to challenge Liverpool’s domestic dominance and have levelled their record of 18 titles.
So it’s now another battle of the fierce rivals, who can reach 19 first?
Some of the finest moments for United against Liverpool came in FA Cup ties, including United’s victory in the 1977 FA Cup Final, Eirc Cantona’s strike in the 1996 FA Cup Final, Dwight Yorke’s equaliser two minutes from time and Solskjaer’s winner in the FA Cup 4th round in 1999.
The 2008/2009 season witnessed Manchester United and Liverpool go head-to-head for the Premier League title in one of the closest fought battles between the two in decades.
And last season, Liverpool dramatically diminished in a matter of months as challengers to the title but United went on to push Chelsea to the last day.
The form of both teams can be argued lately, as Liverpool have not seemed to be able to get out of 2nd gear in the Premier League and United have given away leads to drop points which could prove valuable come the end of the season.
But when it comes to Manchester United versus Liverpool, form goes out the window and just about anything can happen.
Both teams were in European action during the week and have rested a number of players sure to start on Sunday.
Dimitar Berbatov is set to start and, should his form continue, he will cause the Liverpool defence problems. Antonio Valencia will miss the majority of the season after his horrific injury on Tuesday evening, but Nani deployed on the right will be a more than capable stand in.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this document may not be those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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