You’d be forgiven, if you’re a Manchester United fan, for being sick of the sight of Anfield lately. Where previously we could look forward to the trip, knowing that our record there was absolutely insane, we now find ourselves without a league win since 2007, when Carlos Tevez turned a Rooney shot into the roof of Reina’s net for the only goal.
Of course, whilst Liverpool may have won the last three games at Anfield, prior to that their previous home victory against United came as far back as November 2001. You’ll remember that game for an unstoppable Riise free kick that scorched a hole in Fabian Barthez’s net. Almost exactly 12 months later, Jerzy Dudek dropped the ball at Diego Forlan’s feet, and it would be a long time until Liverpool tasted success again.
Interestingly, this fixture has seen a strange kind of consistency. Much like the ashes, victory tends to come in periods, and we are currently very much in a Liverpool period. From United’s first win in March of 1993, they then had to wait until 1997 to win again. Liverpool then won twice in 2001 before United’s long unbeaten streak. However, it’s also worth noting that, in the Premiership era, the same outcome has never been repeated more than three times in succession, and we’re currently on three Liverpool wins…
Liverpool have won both of their home games since the opening day, when they were held by Sunderland thanks to Seb Larsson’s stunning volley. Of course, beating Bolton and Wolves at home is hardly going to make anyone expect the second coming or anything, but it’s solid. United’s away record is remarkably similar to Liverpool’s home; wins over Bolton and West Brom and a draw to Stoke thanks to Peter Crouch’s towering header. Nothing can be gleaned from that whatsoever.
In fact, for both sides this represents the first genuinely top-class test of the season. United may have executed Arsenal, but that was distantly the worst Arsenal team I have ever laid eyes on. Liverpool failed miserably away to Tottenham too, the most difficult fixture outside the traditional big four plus City.
That said, Liverpool are going to be massively up for this. They always are when United come to town, but this weekend emotions are going to be running just that little bit higher. With the whole Hillsborough itch scratched by TalkSport last week and the debate in the commons on Monday, the atmosphere is going to be hostile in the extreme.
Should Luis Suarez start chucking himself about with the kind of reckless abandon he seems to enjoy, then it will only get more hostile.
I think a draw could be the result we’re looking at here. Liverpool always raise themselves for games against United and, despite the fact that the media would have you believe that Liverpool’s home for is “great”, it’s no different to United’s away form. It’s always difficult to predict a win at Anfield, so I think a score draw is the likely result. Given how gung-ho both teams can be, a one goal win either way also would not surprise me. So, so tough to call.