Tomorrow lunchtime will be the latest chapter of Liverpool against Manchester United as England’s two most successful clubs lock horns at Anfield.
The clash needs no introduction, the two clubs have a decorated past in both English and European football.
Manchester and Liverpool are just 35 miles apart, but when it comes to football the iron curtain descends between the two cites as it had between Western and Eastern Europe in 1946 – the words of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
MM previews tomorrow’s game by looking back at six classic past matches between Liverpool and United, each paving the way for greatness – or infamy – for a different player.
King Eric of Wembley – Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool (FA Cup Final, May 1996 – Wembley Stadium, London)
Finals are rarely the most entertaining of games. This was certainly the case in the 1996 FA Cup final at the old Wembley, until a flash of brilliance from United’s cult hero Eric Cantona settled the game and handed Sir Alex Ferguson his second league and cup double in three years.
The impact the French forward had on United was immense as he was the catalyst in each of United’s five titles in six years between 1993 and 1997.
No game demonstrated his talismanic presence more than the ‘96 cup final where he made Wembley his playing field.
In a game of few chances, something had to give as David Beckham floated in a corner in the 85th minute.
Liverpool cleared but only as far as Cantona who volleyed home from the edge of the box with a goal worthy to win any game.
Diego’s Double – Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League, December 2002 – Anfield, Liverpool)
Diego Forlan’s United career was a roller-coaster, but his fondest memory from his time in England undoubtedly came at Anfield at the back end of 2002.
It was a similar affair to the 1996 FA Cup final, a real battle but not much goal mouth action. This was until Jerzy Dudek gifted Forlan with an early Christmas present which the Uruguayan took full advantage of.
The game suddenly sprung to the home side into life, as Sami Hyypia levelled the scores eight minutes from time. Liverpool may have gone ahead but for a stunning save from Fabien Barthez to deny Dietmar Hamman.
The Anfield crowd could sense a Liverpool winner, until Ryan Giggs broke up the other end and put the ball through to Forlan who rifled a right-footed shot past Dudek to hand United all three points.
Torr-ific Away Win – Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool (Premier League, March 2009 – Old Trafford, Manchester)
The year 2009 was the infamous year of Rafa’s January rant about referees. It turned even the fiercest of rivalries up a notch.
Two months later, though, it was Rafa Benitez who came out on top as Liverpool thrashed United at Old Trafford to complete a league double over their arch-rivals.
The result looked unlikely when a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty midway through the first half put United in the lead.
Five minutes later, Liverpool levelled against the run of play through Fernando Torres before Steven Gerrard slotted home a penalty on the stroke of half time.
Liverpool dominated in the second half as goals from left-backs Fabio Aurellio and Andrea Dossena completed the rout and gave the Reds one of their most memorable wins of the Premier League era.
Torres was United chief-tormentor on the day, as Nemanja Vidic was sent off. It was United’s first league loss for over four months. Despite a heavy defeat, United went on to pip Liverpool to the title.
Suarez flies the Kuyt for Liverpool – Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United (Premier League, March 2011 – Anfield, Liverpool)
A Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick took the game away from Liverpool in September 2010 as United won 3-2. In the corresponding fixture in the 2010/11 season, there was a hat-trick from another striker as Liverpool won their third consecutive game against United at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt was the hero as Kenny Dalgleish’s side put Ferguson’s United to the sword on a sunny Merseyside afternoon.
The weather certainly matched the mood of the Liverpool fans, and their mood would was further enhanced by another striker.
Kuyt may have got all the headlines for his superb hat-trick, but Luis Suarez was majestic and he was heavily involved in the build-up to all three of Kuyt’s goals.
Just as Forlan stole the show in 2002, his international team-mate Suarez announced himself to the classic fixture in 2011 when he left the United defenders with twisted blood.
It was a sign of things to come from Suarez – he would go on to become one of the best players to grace the Premier league before moving to Barcelona in 2014.
Wayne’s World – Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool (Premier League, February 2012 – Old Trafford, Manchester)
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the game, with Suarez about to make a return to the team following an eight-game ban against the player whom he racially abused four months previously.
Patrice Evra, United’s skipper on the day was angered when Suarez refused to shake his hand, which subsequently resulted in Rio Ferdinand snubbing a handshake from Liverpool’s striking sensation.
The talk on the pitch was done by Wayne Rooney.
United and England’s all-time top scorer did what he does best, stepping up to the plate in the big matches.
Rooney grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and put the game beyond Liverpool with an early second-half brace.
Suarez grabbed a late consolation for the visitors, but it didn’t take the gloss of the win for United – Evra in particular who celebrated in front of Suarez when referee Phil Dowd blew for full-time.
Juan-field – Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United (Premier League, March 2015 – Anfield, Liverpool)
A huge game which would have a pivotal outcome on who finished in the top four come the end of the 2014/15 season.
Louis van Gaal’s United side were the underdogs going into the game, but the form book went out of the window.
Liverpool were unbeaten in the league for three months, but one player single-handedly ended that unbeaten run.
In a sumptuous display, Juan Mata scored two goals and was the star of an excellent team performance from United including a stunning bicycle kick.
The game will also be remembered for Gerrard seeing the red mist less than a minute after his half-time introduction for a stamp on Ander Herrera.
It was a crucial result for Van Gaal and United, as the Red Devils went on to secure Champions League football at the expense of Liverpool.