Two behemoths of the English game fighting for different end-of-season goals pit their wits against one another on Tuesday night, as Liverpool play host to Manchester United at Anfield in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side head into the game having just booked their spot in the FA Cup final, while the Red Devils were indebted to a current and former hero in a 3-2 league win versus Norwich City.
One domestic title is already in the bag, they are potentially only 270 minutes away from a seventh Champions League crown, and another trip to Wembley awaits this rampant Liverpool side, whose fans are growing more optimistic about a possible quadruple with each passing week.
The Reds blew Manchester City out of the water with three quickfire goals in their FA Cup semi-final – two for Sadio Mane and another header from Ibrahima Konate – and Pep Guardiola’s men could not spark a miraculous turnaround despite restoring some parity through Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish.
The Easter period has not been kind to Liverpool’s jellied legs, but incredibly, the AXA treatment room is virtually empty, and Klopp’s side remain within touching distance of reigning Premier League champions City after rescuing a 2-2 draw at the Etihad last week.
With City not in action again until Wednesday, Liverpool could dethrone the league leaders for at least 24 hours with victory in front of their own supporters, and stringing together an eight-game winning run in all competitions is certainly a recipe for success ahead of Tuesday’s battle.
The Reds have also scored at least two goals in each of their last five games continentally and domestically and have remarkably won 10 on the bounce at Anfield in the Premier League – no English top-flight side has performed better than them on home turf this season – and their opponents therefore have their work cut out to add to the measly seven home goals that Klopp’s side have conceded in the league this term.
Often labelled the problem at Man United this term, Cristiano Ronaldo was very much the solution during the visit of Norwich City, who responded to the Portuguese’s early double through Kieran Dowell’s header and Teemu Pukki’s near-post finish in front of a frustrated Old Trafford crowd.
A spate of dodgy defending so nearly cost Man United dear once again, but with 76 minutes on the clock, Ronaldo stood over a free kick with his trademark pose before firing an unstoppable effort into the net – claiming his 60th career hat-trick and saving the Red Devils’ bacon in the process.
Manager-elect Erik ten Hag may not have had his eyes on the 3-2 win while he prepares for KNVB-Beker final duty with Ajax, but the current man in control of the reins Ralf Rangnick has now witnessed his side leapfrog Arsenal into fifth place in the Premier League table, although Tottenham Hotspur are still three points clear with a far better goal difference.
Victory over relegation favourites Norwich represents just a second win from eight in all competitions during an underwhelming spell for Man United, though, and not since December have they kept a clean sheet on the road in the Premier League – losing two in a row on rival turf to Manchester City and Everton.
Not a single Red Devils fan needs reminding of the 5-0 embarrassment that was dished upon them by Liverpool back in October, so revenge will certainly be on the visitors’ minds this week, but they have failed to register a win at Anfield in any competition since 2016 and have only found the back of the net once on their rivals’ turf in their last six meetings.