This weekend will be feature the next installment in the storied Liverpool versus Manchester United rivalry. One that spans history and competitions and holds the squads as the pinnacle of English football.
It is not news that United’s days of glory are more recent than Liverpool’s. That Liverpool’s oft remarked upon inability to close their fingers around the Premier League trophy is a duck that this iteration of Reds is trying to break.
Still, things seem to have changed for both clubs over the last two or three years. Liverpool have consistently been in the title race for three years running now. Liverpool are also holders of the Champions League, UEFA Supercup, and FIFA Club World Cup trophies. They are, by name and recognition, the best club in the world.
They are also flying high atop the Premier League table, 14 points clear with a game in hand over their nearest rivals. Coincidentally, that squad hails from the blue half of Manchester. United, meanwhile, are sat at fifth, closer to seventh than they are to the spot above them occupied by Chelsea.
If there is any extra spice to an already rather heated rivalry, it won’t be gained in being at loggerheads for similar places in the table. That won’t, of course, change the dynamics of the match, especially given that in this terrific run of results for Liverpool, the only dropped points came in their visit to Old Trafford in the reverse fixture. There will be, then, the motivation to rectify things.
Jurgen Klopp made that clear in his remarks to the press ahead of the match, noting once more that he and the players are both aware of the importance of this match as well as the overall importance of this season.
“It’s a very, very important football game. Very important, like games against pretty much all opponents. We know about how important it is to our supporters. But I hope people understand it, it’s like we play against Everton, it’s like an add-on for them. The only reason we do it is because some people brought us together that we play for Liverpool and Liverpool is obviously the natural enemy of some clubs. We have more natural enemies than other clubs have – the reason is our history probably, how successful this club was. But we said it long ago, I said it long ago, we have to write our own history. That means we have to play the games our way and that’s what we try. So, very, very important game.”
There’s a nice balance in the remarks from the gaffer that both acknowledges the importance of the rivalry for the supporters, but also the attempt to make it a part of an entire season’s worth of work. Rivalry games, though, have a life of their own, so even with a struggling United there are likely to be some fireworks on Sunday. Here’s hoping that LFC can bring home the win and keep the good times rolling.