English football's fiercest rivalry will be renewed when Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield. However, this time the focus of this widely anticipated Premier League clash will be on events before (and possibly after) kick-off, as both sides play in the shadow of and pay tribute to victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is set for 1.30 pm BST. Live coverage will be available on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky Sports 3D.
The match will certainly be an emotionally charged affair, if only because it is the Reds' first home game since last week's report of unknown details of the 1989 tragedy. The independent panel revealed the South Yorkshire police had a hand in covering up vital details of the investigation that could have discredited the government. Instead, the police, it seems, chose to start a smear campaign against Liverpool supporters, claiming they contributed to the death of 96 of their own. The disaster was at the Hillsborough Stadium, in a FA Cup semi final between the Reds and Nottingham Forest, 23 years ago.
Anfield faithful will queue to up pay respect to the victims and expect full support from their visitors - their biggest rivals. Captains Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic are set to release 96 red balloons ahead of kick-off and Sir Alex Ferguson has even written an open letter to United supporters, calling for an end to all tasteless chants and also to produce their best behaviour during the visit.
As if all that weren't enough, another sub-plot in the encounter will be the Luis Suarez - Patrice Evra dual. In the reverse fixture last season, the Liverpool forward refused to shake the hand of the United defender, following a much publicised race row.
However, we really shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there is a Premier League fixture at stake here and the three valuable points that go with the win. The Reds will be acutely aware of the fact they are yet to win a game in the league this term (two points from four games - their worst start since 1911). Brendan Rodgers would obviously love for this to be the scene of that first win.
United, on the other hand, will travel to Liverpool on the back of three successive league wins; memories of that disappointing 0-1 opening day defeat to Everton have been successfully banished.
Both sides tasted European success in midweek, with United beating Galatasaray 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Champions League and Liverpool clinching a 5-3 victory against BSC Young Boys at Bern in the Europa League.
History is in Liverpool's favour in this fixture, with the Merseyside outfit having won four and lost none of their last five games in all competitions at home against United.
- Last five (most recent first): W D L D D
- Last Result: BSC Young Boys 3 - 5 Liverpool
- Last five (most recent first): W W W W L
- Last Result: Manchester United 1 - 0 Galatasaray
Liverpool: Midfielders Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole are the only notable absentees from Rodgers's squad for this clash. The Northern Irish tactician will bring his big names back into the squad after making wholesale changes for the game against Young Boys. Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly, who were all rested for the midweek game, will be back in the starting line-up.
Forwards Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling, who were substitutes in Switzerland, are likely to start up front alongside Suarez. Gerrard and Allen are sure bets in midfield, while Jonjo Shelvey, who came on and scored a brace against Young Boys, should see off competition from Nuri Sahin for the last spot.
Manchester United: Ferguson's injury worries continue as Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all remain sidelined for this trip to Anfield. The Scot is likely to field the same side that beat Galatasaray in midweek. At the back, the first-choice quartet of Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patric Evra will continue, after managing a clean sheet against the Turks. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick are expected to hold the midfield, while Tom Cleverley also remains an option for Ferguson. Antonia Valencia and Nani are both sure bets for the wing roles and Robin van Persie will lead the attack, with Shinji Kagwa playing just behind him.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Allen, Gerrard, Shelvey; Borini, Suarez, Sterling
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Valencia, Kagawa, Nani; van Persie
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