By Ollie Cranham-Young
- Manchester United v Liverpool is one of the biggest rivalries in English sport
- Not just a battle of two football clubs but a battle of two cities
Now the International break is over we can concentrate on our eagerly anticipated Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford. I thought that it would be a good time to share with you my own experiences and memories on the biggest fixture in English, if not World football.
United v Liverpool – Is It The Biggest Club Game In The World?
For me, United v Liverpool is the biggest football fixture in the world. It epitomises the competitiveness of football and is always an eagerly awaited clash for both United and Liverpool fans alike. Personally, I think it is even better than “El Clasico”. Yes Barcelona and Real Madrid have both been extremely successful down the years, however nothing comes close to the biggest club in the world vs their fiercest rival. When the fixtures are printed every June, it is always the first fixture I look for, and you can never be certain as to who comes out on top.
In other words, you could never put your money on it, no matter how much stronger one opponent is at a certain time, anything could happen. Expect the unexpected is the best way to describe this fixture, and later on we will look at some memorable matches from down the years. United v City, Chelsea v City, Arsenal v Tottenham, United v Chelsea: Nothing quite compares to United v Liverpool. It is the greatest clash of them all.
Anfield – March 2007 – O’Shea Last Gasp Winner
As some of you already know, I begun watching United in the 2006/07 season and my first ever United v Liverpool clash I watched was on the 3 March 2007. A goal scored at the Kop end of Anfield is special. A goal for United scored at the Kop end is even more special. But the greatest you could wish for would be a last minute winner for United at the Kop end of the stadium. And that’s exactly what happened. An infamous John O’Shea grabbed the winner, albeit a perfectly struck tap in following a fantastic save by goalkeeper Pepe Reina, from a last minute United free kick.
Not only was it special as I was watching in a pub full of Liverpool supporters but it was also a great moment because it was a vital three points which helped United move ever closer to the title, which a few games later, they managed to secure. The giant trophy had been absent from the United museum for 3 seasons, and had seen it become United’s longest ever Premier League Trophy draught of 3 years. It had been in the capital for 3 years previously, but John O’Shea’s last-gasp goal in front of the Kop had seen United take a massive step in bringing it back to the European Capital of Trophies, which as we all know is Manchester.
Old Trafford – September 2010 – Berbatov Hat-Trick
The second of three games I would like to look at is different this time as this certain clash was played at Old Trafford and around 75,000 lucky people can say that they were there to witness it. The date was the 19 September 2010, and we play them around a similar time this season. United 3-2 Liverpool was the score line and even though Gerrard scored twice in six minutes the game will be happily remembered for Berbatov’s hat trick including an overhead kick in front of the Stretford end.
United went 2-0 up until Gerrard scored a double in six minutes to even things out midway through the second half. Following the equaliser on 70 minutes it looked like this time the spoils would be divided but then in the 84th minute, Berbatov stepped up to deliver a header from a fantastic O’Shea cross to send the Stretford end and the rest of Old Trafford crazy.
Anfield – March 2015 – Mata Double
The last one was hard to pick as we did the double over Liverpool last year and it is extremely tempting to pick the first United v Liverpool clash I attended in person, however you just can’t say no to a Mata double at Anfield. 22 March 2015, a lot more recently than the other 2 fixtures we have looked at. This game had so many memorable moments. Mata’s bicycle kick. Gerrard’s 38 seconds on the pitch. Rooney’s penalty miss. Di Maria’s handball. And then a howler from De Gea to give Sturridge nothing more than a consolation goal for Liverpool.
Looking back, it’s a shame Mata didn’t take the penalty, because providing he had scored he would have had a hat-trick and we probably would have had back-to-back triumphs over Liverpool, home and away. But we must remember the good moments, and the one that definitely stands out is Mata’s bicycle kick in front of the travelling United fans after a dream of a pass from Dí Maria. At that point in the season, the clash was not just about pride but about three vital points. To sum it up, whoever won that game, would have finished 4th as Liverpool would have overtaken United in the league table.
So, as well as giving United a vital three points it also spurred United on to grab three more points against Manchester City, and what a memorable day at Old Trafford it was, City were thrashed from ten minutes in. You could go as far to say that our last fixture v Liverpool helped us to go on an guarantee qualification back to Europe’s elite competition. What a fantastic day on Merseyside it was!
As we mentioned before, we are now just a few days away from playing Liverpool again, and it’s the first heavyweight clash of the season at Old Trafford. At Sir Alex Ferguson Way we frankly can’t wait and we are all hoping for another memorable Old Trafford victory against our biggest rivals.
Incase you didn’t know, United and Liverpool played in a legends match on Thursday, United being victorious with an emphatic 4-2 win over the Liverpool legends, and they came from behind! Hopefully, this has geared the lads up for the biggest clash of the season following this weekend’s international break.