Manchester United vs Liverpool is always a game that garners interest. The two arch-rivals are steeped in history and the two most successful teams in the country.
With them currently occupying the top two spots in the league, the clash at Anfield could prove to be a six-pointer in the title race. Where the title ends up this season could very well rewrite English football history. The ‘perch’ has changed hands once this century already.
Pride and ambition will be on the line in what could be a blockbuster clash this Sunday.
After all, this was a game 12 years in the making.
The 2008/09 English Premier League season saw Liverpool and Manchester United challenge each other for the league title for the first time in recent memory.
At that point in time, Liverpool were England’s most successful club having won the league 18 times. Despite putting up their then best Premier League point tally, United went on to triumph, joining Liverpool on the perch.
Rafael Benitez’s side lost just two games all season but an inability to convert draws to wins cost them bad. The Reds held onto the top spot until January 17, 2009, only for a stoppage-time winner by Dimitar Berbatov to send United top.
They would never relinquish the position and went on to claim the title by four points. It sparked mad celebrations at Old Trafford on the last day as Liverpool could only look on and wonder what more they could have done.
The images of Steven Gerrard kissing the camera at Old Trafford were quickly replaced by that of a young Federico Macheda celebrating his stoppage-time winner against Aston Villa. The wait for Liverpool would go on.
United also enjoyed the advantage over Liverpool at the reserve level. A former Red Devil star, a plucky Norwegian took over the club’s reserve side in 2008. He led them to a 3-2 win over the Merseysiders, winning the Lancashire Senior Cup in his first season in charge.
That very season, some 585 miles away from Old Trafford, a promising German coach was rebuilding a faltering Borussia Dortmund side. Little did anyone know back then that this charismatic man would go on to earn his flag on the Kop.
12 years on, the plucky Norwegian is in charge of the United senior side while the German prospect is arguably the world’s foremost manager.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s United side will travel to Anfield to take on defending champions Liverpool in a game of monumental proportions. A win will not just end the Reds’ four year unbeaten home record but also sent the Red Devils six points clear at the top.
Liverpool could themselves pip United to the summit on goal difference if they manage to secure a win at Anfield. Under Klopp, they usually do so at home.
The matchup is an interesting twist in the club’s fortunes since 2009. It can be argued that the teams have swapped positions since then.
Back then, United were one league championship away from equalling Liverpool’s record tally of 18. Now the Merseysiders are just one-off United’s 20. It is also an interesting clash of philosophies – Solskajer looking to take the club back to his time, while Klopp plans to usher in the future.
Solskjaer’s United is akin to that of Rafa’s Liverpool. Both teams excelled in cup competitions but failed to see it out in the league. Klopp’s Reds are as dominant as Sir Alex Ferguson’s United in their heyday. The difference couldn’t be starker.
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United went top on January 17, 2009 and never looked back as they equaled Liverpool’s record tally of league championships. Twelve years on from that date, Klopp and his defending champions can return the favour.
There may be no fans at Anfield to raise a ” We are back on the perch” banner. The message however will be heard loud and clear.