United and Liverpool, who both play in red, have a combined tally of 38 English league titles and eight European Cups and both enjoy a vast following throughout Britain and around the world.
For all the rancour between fans of the country’s two most successful clubs, located just 30 miles (48 kilometres) apart, they share much in common – a history of enviable success but also of deep tragedy.
Last month United marked the 60th anniversary of the Munich air crash that killed 23 people, including eight players, on their way home from a European Cup quarter-final in Belgrade.
In 1989, 96 Liverpool fans were killed in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground as they attended an FA Cup semi-final.
“They have a global profile cities of a similar size don’t have and United and Liverpool have given them that profile,” Andy Mitten, editor of the United We Stand fanzine, and Manchester native, told AFP.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 9, 2018
“These are two huge clubs with similar histories of triumph and tragedy that hail from cities that punch well above their weight demographically.”
The two sides first met as far back as 1894 – in the same year as the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, which sparked tension between the rival cities by undermining Liverpool’s position as a commercial port.
However, most of their success has been condensed into two prolonged spells of domination. Rarely have both clubs been on an upward curve at the same time.
Liverpool left their rivals in the shade during a prolonged period of dominance from 1973 until 1990, winning 11 league titles and four European Cups.
Alex Ferguson, who arrived at Old Trafford in 1986, famously described “knocking Liverpool off their perch” as his biggest challenge as United manager and he duly delivered, ending the Red Devils’ 25-year wait to win the league, scooping up 13 titles and two Champions League crowns.
City still trailing
Neither side have won the Premier League since Ferguson retired in 2013, though, and when they meet on Saturday it will be second place rather than the title on the line, with runaway leaders Manchester City the new top dogs in the northwest.
Jose Mourinho’s United are on 62 points, just two ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. City are over the horizon with 78.
Yet that has not diluted the feeling on both sides of the divide that a clash between United and Liverpool remains the highlight on the English football calendar.
“Over the history of English football it is certainly the biggest,” former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman told AFP.
The year after Ferguson’s departure, United fans had an uncomfortable choice to make as City pipped Liverpool to the title, extending the Anfield club’s now 28-year drought without winning the league.
“It was interesting in 2014 when both were going for the title how many United fans didn’t want Liverpool to win it because they haven’t won it for 28 years and they had 18 titles to City’s three,” said Mitten.
Some stunning strikes here. 😍 pic.twitter.com/airSNXOPIp
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 8, 2018
“City are a better team than Liverpool but they’ve just overtaken Huddersfield Town with four titles.”
However, the price of success has been a gradual chipping away at their local identity.
Both clubs are now American-owned, coached by a German and a Portuguese, while their top scorers, Mohamed Salah for Liverpool and Romelu Lukaku for Manchester United, hail from Egypt and Belgium.
When the sides line up on Saturday, it is possible not a single Mancunian or Scouser will feature among the 22 players that start.
“Local players add something intangible, a sort of mentality that is hard to find or instil in players that hail from elsewhere,” said Zarif Rasul, author of “Liverpool FC: The Greatest Goals”.
“It has felt as though the team have lacked something since Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher hung up their boots.”
But that loss of identity does not dim the delight in getting one over on your biggest rivals.
“Irrespective of the teams’ positions in the table, everything is always better after beating United,” added Rasul.
Provided by AFP Sport
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With only four fixtures in gameweek 31, and Liverpool being the only top six club in action, FPL managers need to look ahead and maybe even contemplate that Free Hit chip.
The big match this week though sees the Merseyside Reds travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in a battle for second place.
Here are a few pointers to guide you ahead of Gameweek 30.
We went for Harry Kane last week and despite threatening to get on the score sheet, he didn’t manage a goal against Huddersfield but did at least provide a fine assist to register five points.
This week, we’re sticking with the England international. Tottenham will be hurting after their elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Juventus and it would be just like Kane to score a couple away to Bournemouth and lift the mood inside the camp again as they look to secure a top-four spot.
Not only is he a prime candidate because Mohamed Salah faces a tough fixture against United, but in the last four weeks, he’s had 10 shots on target and been on the end of eight big chances – the most in the league on both fronts.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth have conceded 12 big chances over that period while United have allowed only four.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (10.4m) has an ownership of just 4.5 per cent and that makes him a very handy differential captain pick this week. Despite Arsenal’s woeful form, the Gabon international has still managed two goal in his first four Premier League outings. Arsenal play Watford at home and having been cup-tied for the team’s Europa League excursions against AC Milan, the former Borussia Dortmund striker should be fresh and raring to go.
DAVID SILVA (8.0m) has returned to the fold and wasted no time matching his namesake Bernardo for FPL returns. Having been rested against Basel, David looks set to start against Stoke while Bernardo’s place may be under threat by Raheem Sterling who is on the way back from injury having rejoined training this week. Silva scored 17 points over the last two games against Arsenal and Chelsea with a goal and assist.
GLENN MURRAY (5.9m) has been on fire lately with five goals in his last five league outings including a brace against against Swansea. In fact, he’s amassed 35 points over that period, dwarfing Kane’s return of 21 points. At just 5.9m as well, he’s proving to be great value and Brighton, who are unbeaten in their last five, take on an Everton side this week struggling for form.
RAJIV VAN LA PARRA | HUDDERSFIELD | 4.8M
Prior to last week’s away defeat to Spurs, Rajiv van La Parra scored in consecutive games against Bournemouth and West Brom. He’s a real bargain at 4.8m and has had five shots on target in the last four gameweeks, more than Xherdan Shaqiri. He faces Swansea this week and Crystal Palace in gameweek 31 while enjoying good fixtures until gameweek 35.
CHRISTOPHER SCHINDLER | HUDDERSFIELD | 4.6M
Christopher Schindler is another player worth targeting in order to take full advantage of Huddersfield’s kind run of fixtures. The Terriers haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last eight but Swansea don’t pose a genuine attacking threat on the road. The centre-back is also a prime candidate for bonus points with 529 BPS this season, putting him among the top 10 defenders in that regard.
MARKO ARNAUTOVIC | WEST HAM | 7.0M
After blanking in his last two gameweeks, upcoming fixtures don’t bode well for Marko Arnautovic either. Following Burnley’s visit this week, West Ham don’t play in gameweek 31 and then face Chelsea, Arsenal and City in the following in the following five rounds. There are better options than the Austrian at 7m with Shaqiri chief among them.
PHIL JONES | MANCHESTER UNITED | 5.5M
Arguably United’s most consistent defender this season, Phil Jones has missed the last two gameweeks through injury and may only return to the side in April. At 5.5m, those funds could be directed towards Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (5.6m) or Andrew Robertson (4.9m) given that the Reds feature in gameweek 31 as well.
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The teams lie second and third respectively in the Premier League but a look at the statistics shows the importance of Liverpool getting ahead in the game, with United having proved stronger late in games this season.
2 – margin between the teams in the Premier League table, in the battle for second place behind champions-elect Manchester City.
81.9 – United keeper David De Gea‘s save percentage from shots on target this season is the best in the Premier League. Liverpool’s combination of Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet rank 19th at 61.4 per cent, ahead of only Huddersfield’s Jonas Lossl (61.2).
10 – goals by United substitutes this season, including seven shared between Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard. They are one ahead of rivals City to again lead the league in that category. Liverpool have just three – two from Mohamed Salah, who we can safely assume will start on Saturday, and one from Daniel Sturridge who joined West Brom on loan in January and is now injured.
6 – Liverpool have also conceded six goals to opposing substitutes. Only twice have players come off the bench to notch against United.
6 – The Red Devils’ winner against Crystal Palace on Monday was the sixth goal they have scored in stoppage time this season – joint best in the Premier League – against only one conceded. Jurgen Klopp’s side, by contrast, have scored three and conceded seven – no other Premier League team has conceded more than four.
2 – once United take the lead, they rarely lose it – Jose Mourinho’s men have conceded only two equalisers all season, second best in the Premier League behind Tottenham (one). Only Leicester (10) have conceded more than Liverpool’s nine.
36 – cards shown to Liverpool players this season – 35 yellows and a red. Only Swansea, with 36 yellows, have a better disciplinary record. United have 52 yellows and a red – West Ham (64/2) have the worst record in the league by a wide margin, but otherwise only West Brom and Watford are worse than United.
24 – Salah is tied with Harry Kane in the race for the Premier League golden boot. Romelu Lukaku is United’s top scorer with 14 league goals.
4 – successive draws between United and Liverpool – their last three Premier League meetings, and a Europa League last 16 second leg in 2015-16. The latter meant progress for Liverpool, who had won the first leg 2-0.
79-65 – United’s lead in the all-time head-to-head, with 55 draws.
Provided by Press Association Sport