They call it the battle of the North West. The two biggest clubs in British football. A game which never fails to deliver controversy, goals, bookings and tension between the fans.
With 107 domestic trophies between them both and a reputation for being two of the fiercest rivals in world football, Manchester United against Liverpool never fails to excite the neutrals and sends fear of defeat through the bodies of both sets of fans. With Liverpool reigning supreme in the later periods of the 20th century and United dominating the early stages of the 21st century, the ship canal rivalry has never been so fierce.
United won the reverse fixture at Liverpool earlier in the season with goals from Rafael and van Persie sealing a 2-1 victory to record United’s first win at Anfield since 2007. It helped on the way to a 21 point lead over 8th place Liverpool, both teams will be looking to come away from Old Trafford with all three points.
Manchester United are boosted by the return of influential midfielders Nani and Anderson from injury. Nani picked up a hamstring injury in November and recent transfer speculation has said that he is set to move on from United this January, although Sir Alex Ferguson has quashed any of these rumours.
Wayne Rooney has been ruled out of the game after picking up a knee injury on Christmas day but is expected to make a return to United in this week’s FA Cup Third Round replay against West Ham. After impressing against Wigan, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie are set to start up front once again for United as they look to go ten points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.
Liverpool have no new injury concerns although left back Jose Enrique has been ruled out with a hamstring strain which means Glen Johnson will most probably start at left-back, with Andre Wisdom filling in at right back. Liverpool will be boosted by the form of new signings Daniel Sturridge, who will be looking to make his Premier League debut for the Merseyside outfit. Liverpool have had a rather inconsistent season so far and currently find themselves languishing in eighth place but they are just seven points off a Champions League Qualifying spot.
A total of 14 red cards have been handed out in this game since the Premier League was started back in 1992, a fact which isn’t really that surprising considering that the rivalry reached its peak in the mid-90s. The game is expected to be extremely open but for the first time in 17 years, I’m confident that United can beat Liverpool and can beat them with ease.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Liverpool
What do you think the score will be?