Old Trafford legend Norman Whiteside admits nothing excites Manchester United players and fans more than a clash with arch-rivals Liverpool.
The bruising striker was renowned for saving his best for fixtures between the two football giants – famously netting against the Merseyside club to become the youngest ever League Cup goal-scorer at 17.
And Whiteside points out the long and storied history of the rivalry – in which both teams have collected 37 domestic championships between them – remains unsurpassed.
“It’s the first date you look for when the fixture list comes out,” Whiteside said. “Not just as players but supporters too.
“I still think it’s the biggest game of the season. I know City are coming close to it but they still have a long way to go.
“If you’re looking at United and Liverpool with 19 and 18 league titles, then City are a long way off that and well behind as far as history is concerned.”
United are currently on a hot streak against the Anfield club, picking up four wins and a draw over the last six games – including Robin van Persie’s late penalty triumph last September.
But though Liverpool may be languishing 21 points behind the Red Devils in the Premier League, Whiteside insists in this fixture it is passion, not form, which decides the victors.
“It’s always tough against Liverpool,” said the ex-Northern Ireland forward. “I think all the form books go out of the window.
“It’s going to be about whoever is up for it on the day and I just hope we are.
“Van Persie has done brilliantly and United have just got this knack about scoring at the right time.”
Last season’s Old Trafford clash between the two saw Luis Suarez return from an eight-match ban for racially abusing French leftback Patrice Evra.
The fiery fixture resulted in a nervy climax for homes fans when the Uruguayan striker pulled one back with ten minutes to go, after a Wayne Rooney double gave the Reds a first-half lead.
The game was marred before kick-off when Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand during the pre-match build up.