The footballing rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool is set to reach another level in the coming weeks as the two cities’ footballing powerhouses meet FOUR times in the space of just 18 days.
Manchester City and Liverpool head to the capital this weekend ahead of the Capital One Cup Final, with the Blues looking to avenge a 4-1 defeat in the league back in November by taking the first silverware of the season at Wembley on Sunday.
And should the League Cup final not go their way, they won’t have to wait long for another crack at the Liverpudlians on Wednesday evening as they travel to Anfield in the Premier League.
As if tension wasn’t high enough, Friday’s Europa League round of 16 draw then pitted Liverpool against arch-rivals Manchester United.
The tie will be played over two legs – first at Anfield on March 10 and then at Old Trafford seven days later – and represents the first ever time England’s two most successful clubs have met in European competition.
Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp reacted to the bumper Europa League draw in his press conference ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final with a big ‘thumbs up’!
“It’s great. We deserve these games,” said the former Borussia Dortmund manager, before revealing that he wanted to be drawn against United all along.
“Obviously it won’t be easy but you can ask my staff. They said: ‘who do you want?’ and I said: ‘Man United’.”
Klopp is out for revenge after United came away from Anfield with all three points in the league in January – a smash-and-grab win in a game which Klopp feels Liverpool did not deserve to lose.
“I think we have to clear something [up]. We had a good game against them at Anfield but lost 1-0. We didn’t deserve that.
“Now life gives us the chance to make it better. We will try.
“In this round there was no chance to get any easy games but to get Man United is good.”
But first, the German’s attention is focussed on the blue half of Manchester as Liverpool and City go head to head at Wembley on Sunday.
Much has been made of City’s midweek exertions as they travelled to back from Ukraine after beating Dynamo Kiev 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
But Klopp doesn’t think the Blues can have any excuses:
“They flew, they didn’t walk! That’s not too difficult. So I don’t think we should think about this. We will be fit, they will be fit.
“Thursday’s game [v Augsburg] was intensive for us too but nobody feels tired. A final helps you to get up in the morning.”
But he wasn’t giving any tactical information away ahead the cup final, stoking the tension further with a little dig at Manchester:
“I should not talk about tactics here, don’t you think?” he told reporters. “Even in Manchester they have televisions.”
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini won’t be complaining – he has been carefully planning for this game for weeks, even fielding a weakened side against Chelsea in the FA Cup in a calculated attempt to deal with fixture congestion.
“It was a very difficult decision but it was the correct one,” he said about his team selection at Stamford Bridge last week.
“One of the reasons we won the Premier League was that we were knocked out of the FA Cup in the quarter-final to Wigan in 2014.”
The gamble certainly seemed to pay off in Kiev on Wednesday night and the Chilean is confident his players won’t be lacking motivation on Sunday.
“To play a final at Wembley creates a different atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a special thing.
“Winning a title in February gives you a lot of trust to continue fighting for other competitions.”
It’s going to be a tense few weeks on all fronts in both Manchester and Liverpool as another chapter is written in the sporting rivalry between the two cities.
Image courtesy of This Is Anfield via YouTube, with thanks.