United enter the contest with a strong home record against their arch-rivals, having won four of their last five games against Liverpool on home turf. Here’s a reminder of what Old Trafford has witnessed over the last five seasons of this fixture.
19th September 2010 – Berba’s finest hour
Dimitar Berbatov is fondly remembered by United fans for his luxurious style of play and providing some memorable moments. Although he never quite lived up to the hype as Fergie’s “missing piece of the jigsaw” to bring back a third Champions League title as some predicted he did treat United fans to some dazzling displays. There were none more dazzling than this game, where he scored an impressive hat-trick to sink Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool. While the winner was a towering header to restore his team’s lead after Steven Gerrard had clawed back two goals to draw Liverpool level, the highlight of the match was Berbatov’s outrageous looping over head kick which clipped in off the crossbar and had Pepe Reina rooted to the spot. United went on to win the league with Berbatov contributing 20 goals.
11th February 2012- The one where Suarez refused a handshake
Nothing captures the imagination of football fans quite like a player refusing to shake another player’s hand. While no one had much of a problem with Wayne Bridge refusing to shake John Terry’s hand two seasons before, Luis Suarez caused quite the stir when he refused to accept Patrice Evra’s offer of a handshake prior to an already incendiary match. The incident was baffling as Suarez was the one who had been punished with an 8 game ban for racially abusing Evra earlier in the season. The match was ill-tempered and Suarez, being the stand up guy he is, caused further incident by kicking a ball into the crowd just before half time which caused unrest as the teams walked to the tunnel. The game was settled by Wayne Rooney with 2 goals in the first four minutes of the second half with Suarez getting a late goal for the visitors. Evra then provoked an angry response from the Liverpool players when he enjoyed a lap of honour after the final whistle that included celebrations in close proximity to his Uruguayan pal.
13th January 2013- Van Persie continues relentless run to the title
Billed as the Battle of the Strikers, the league’s two best front men squared off but there was only one winner as Robin Van Persie scored one and set up the other in a game that was much more comfortable for United than the 2-1 scoreline reflected. A typical lethal finish and a deadly accurate free kick for Evra to nod in were enough to see off Brendan Rodgers and co. The match was like plenty of others that season with Van Persie making the difference, seemingly on a one man mission to win his first, and United’s 20th, league title. The win was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match against Liverpool. His record against the team he successfully knocked off their perch was PL 61 W30 D 13 L18.
16th March 2014- Moyes’ United get battered
Whenever United fans complain about the performance or result, or both, of the current side under Louis Van Gaal I always think back to the two matches at home to Liverpool and then Manchester City under David Moyes and remember how much worse it was only 18 months ago. These were the lowest points in the last 30 years for Manchester United fans. The games, both resounding 3-0 defeats at home, took place just 9 days apart and were the catalyst for his removal as manager. The Liverpool loss was marginally worse due to the fact that not only was the victory thoroughly deserved, it could have been 6 or 7, but that they were playing the kind of fast, free flowing counter attack football that had become the trademark of Alex Ferguson’s great sides. Steven Gerrard scored two penalties, missed a third and, to rub salt into the wounds, Suarez made it 3-0 late on. This was a bad day.
14th December 2014- De Gea shows his worth
Despite the decisive nature of the 3-0 scoreline it was David de Gea who was rightfully awarded Man of the Match for a string of world class saves that underlined his importance to the side. Eyebrows were raised before kick off when promising youngster James Wilson was given a rare big match start at the expense of Radamel Falcao with Wayne Rooney dropping back into a midfield role. However the experiment paid off as goals from Rooney, a Scholes-esque finish arriving late from deep, Mata and Van Persie gave United a comfortable lead. The last 30 minutes showcased why de Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world as he showed uncanny reflexes and incredible agility to deny Mario Balotelli on a handful of occasions. The win also went a long way to bringing a feel good atmosphere back to Old Trafford as one of the ghosts of the Moyes era was laid to rest.
Liam Maguire (@)