When Liverpool and Manchester United play, there really isn’t any need for additional narrative. The derby match between two giants of the game, both domestically and in Europe, is always a heated affair no matter where the teams stand in the table. For Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford, the game means something extra compared to most of the other players.
Both Alexander-Arnold and Rashford are local lads, and grew up in their respective team academies. Over the years, they also played together for the England youth national teams, and for the last couple of years, the senior team. Over the years, the two have become fast friends. Today, however, that friendship will be put on hold for one of the biggest rivalries in the world.
Danny Murphy, a former local Red and current BBC analyst, thinks the match up between the two youngsters could be one of the key battles on the pitch.
“There aren’t many ways United can trouble this Liverpool defense, but gambling on Marcus Rashford to take on Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of them,” said Murphy. “Rashford seems to get joy playing down the left side of a 4-3-3. The question is whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bold enough to tell Rashford to let Alexander-Arnold go so that he’ll have space on the counter.”
Liverpool’s defensive unit haven’t been quite as stout as they were to start the season last year, and teams have found space behind Alexander-Arnold as he pushes up into the attack. Rashford has played most of his minutes as the central striker in the formation, but he will likely drift wide to avoid the imposing duo of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.
Whether or not they actually end up in 1v1 situations, there are still bragging rights up for grabs for the two players.
“The pair are friends as well so there will be a lot of personal pride in who comes out on top, as well as the enormity of the game,” says Murphy.
For Liverpool, a win keeps their lead at the top of the table 8 points over Manchester City. It would also put them in a tie with Manchester City for the most consecutive wins in the Premier League (18). For Manchester United, a win would mean they beat the top team in England and could catapult the Red Devils back into the top half of the table.