The fixture involving arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester United is always intense and important. But it has rarely been games to decide where a big prize ends up. But on Sunday it is, well, if you think that a top four finish is a major honour.
The two north England adversaries has met on 191 occasions in league and cup, but surprisingly seldom battling it out between each other for league titles or cup trophies. And in European competitions they have never locked horns. It was close, though, in 2008 when Man United reached the final in the Champions League and the Reds got knocked out in the semifinal.
In the League Cup the teams has featured in 19 finals (Liverpool 11 and Man Utd 8) but met just twice in the last match, in 1983 and 2003, with the Reds winning on both occasions. In the FA Cup it´s the same story, only two finals between Liverpool and Man Utd, the latter winning both, in 1977 and 1996. And bear in mind that the teams has played in 32 finals, United leading by 18 to 14.
In the league a similar odd record appears. Liverpool has won the league 18 times and Manchester United 20 but just on five occasions has the clubs finished first and second during the same season. Liverpool edges this particular statistic with four to one. The Reds triumphed in the league 1947, 1964, 1980 and 1988 pushing the Red Devils to second spot. Just once, in 2009, has Man Utd won the league when Liverpool was runners-up. So in 33 season when either Liverpool or Manchester United lifted the finest domestic prize the other team ended up lower than second in the table.
So in 51 domestic finals the sides has faced each other just four times and only five times in 125 years of league football has a title duel between them occurred. Pretty peculiar since both clubs has been so successful in gathering trophies.
On Sunday another prize clash is on the cards. Back in the day a top four finish wouldn´t have raised an eyebrow. Now it´s something teams chase like crazy due to the Champions League qualification. The winners in the match at Anfield put themselves in the front seat for a top four finish. At the moment Man Utd is in fourth place two points ahead of Liverpool so a Kop win is crucial. A victory lifts us up to fourth place, a position which was completely unthinkable just four months ago. Do it Reds as:
We Go Again.