There is no more storied rivalry in the history of English football than Liverpool versus Manchester United, a clash between the two most successful, storied clubs. In recent years, though, their fortunes seem headed in different directions.
When the whistle blows to kick off tonight, though, none of that will matter says Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. Last autumn’s 5-0 Liverpool victory over United won’t matter, either. When the game kicks off, Liverpool will expect United’s best.
“It was only a few weeks ago that I said every game for the rest of this season would be a final,” Klopp noted. “I didn’t need to say that about tonight. If there is one game which will always be a final, it is Liverpool versus Manchester United.
“I know that there will be some who will look at the result last time our two clubs met and will view tonight’s fixture as a foregone conclusion. I cannot help those people and I am glad that we will have no-one like this in our dressing room.”
Despite Liverpool being one of England’s clear top two teams in recent years, racking up plaudits along with their sixth European Cup and 19th league title, their past six league games have seen three draws against United to three wins.
It’s a record that does speak to Liverpool being the clear better side at the moment, but dropping even six points in those past six games speaks to United stepping up their game against the Reds and being able to frustrate them, too.
Now, tonight, both will be desperate for points. And three far more than one, with Liverpool close on the heels of Manchester City in the title race and United three points off a top four place and the promise of Champions League qualification.
“Having spoken to some of the people involved, even when Liverpool were dominant in the 1980s United were always their toughest opponent,” the Reds’ boss added. “Again, this is because of the rivalry and I expect tonight to be no different.
“Past results do not matter. Form does not matter. Placings in the league table do not matter. The only thing that does matter will be the way we approach the game on the pitch.”