FOOTBALL

Preview: Manchester United v Liverpool

April 1894 – Manchester United and Liverpool first played each other in a Test Match play-off, with Second Division champions Liverpool coming through as 2-0 victors over then-named Newton Heath at Ewood Park.

More than 100 years later, the two sides are set to contest their 200th edition of the ‘North West Derby’, a rivalry that even now is regarded as the biggest fixture in English football.

Held in high regard as a derby match in world football, alongside other elite rivalries such as the Old Firm, Él Clasico and the Derby della Madonnina, the North West Derby has historically been for far more than just bragging rights, but also for domestic supremacy.

In 2018, the latest edition is uncharacteristically a battle for second place. Manchester City currently top the Premier League table, a staggering 16 points ahead of city rivals United, while Liverpool sit just two points behind United.

Jürgen Klopp’s side are the more form team, with his high-flying Reds currently on a five-game unbeaten run, with three wins in their last three games. United meanwhile have won their last two Premier League games, but also have two losses in their last five.

In the reverse fixture in October, United boss Jose Mourinho faced fan backlash for supposedly approaching the game with the intention of earning a draw. This time out, the managers are more likely to leave nothing to chance.

Eric Bailly returns for Manchester United, while Anthony Martial, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera all remain sidelined through injury. Pogba is another notable absence.

For Liverpool, Andrew Robertson comes back into the starting line-up, having recovered from a knock that kept him out of the midweek Champions League draw with Porto.

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