Liverpool FC v Manchester United: Monday 6 March, 12.30am (AEDST) at Anfield, Liverpool
There are some truly great rivalries in sport today. Collingwood and Carlton in the AFL, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in US baseball, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics in the NBA and Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga. These rivalries make sport great to watch and the added emotion these encounters create for fans often stimulate some of the most memorable and epic contests.
Yet there are few rivalries quite like Manchester United and Liverpool in the English Premier League – a rivalry bred on location and fueled by the widely enjoyed success of both teams.
As they prepare to meet in the early hours of Monday morning, let’s look ahead to yet another colossal encounter.
A win at Anfield on Monday morning would put United in a solid position for the remainder of the EPL season, in their quest for a 19th Premier League crown – a title that would put them above Liverpool for the most league titles won in history. United seemed destined to romp to another title after having cruised through almost two-thirds of the season with very few troubles. Yet after two defeats in their last four outings – which included a staggering debacle against lowly Wolverhampton – the title race has been thrown wide open. If United lose on Monday morning and Arsenal triumph against Sunderland, their lead at the top of table would be cut to just one point.
Meanwhile Liverpool has endured a season it would much rather forget, with any ambitions of Premier League glory vanquished in the league’s opening months. And after a humbling 3-1 loss at the hands of relegation favourites West Ham last week, any chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season seems unrealistic. A defeat to their bitter rivals on Monday morning would be just another difficult thing for die-hard Liverpool fans to swallow, let alone the title implications the result could have.
Injuries and suspensions look likely to play a heavy role in United’s team selection for the encounter. With captain Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Park Ji-Sung, Anderson, Antonio Valencia and Owen Hargreaves all ruled out, United’s options are slim. Both Michael Owen and Patrice Evra are also in doubt, yet should be right come kick-off time.
Contrastingly, Liverpool has almost a full strength squad to choose from. However Martin Kelly won’t play after tweaking his hamstring in the loss at West Ham. What will be fascinating to see is if Andy Carroll, Liverpool’s $56 million striker, will make his debut for the club, after signing with the club in the wake of Fernando Torres’s departure to Chelsea in January.
– In the last 21 meetings between the sides, only one has ended in a draw.
– Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has scored 3 goals in his last 3 matches against Manchester United
– Manchester United have won 8 of their past 9 games when coming off a defeat. They were beaten 2-1 at Chelsea last weekend.
– Liverpool is unbeaten at home against teams in the top half this year.
Expect another typical hard fought and physical encounter between these two great rivals. However United are a much classier outfit and should come out on top at the end of the game.
Liverpool 1 – Manchester United 3