Just like waiting for a bus in London and then three come along at once, the same can be said in this instance about fireworks. Bonfire night was swiftly followed by New Year’s Eve. London lead the country into 2017 with an amazing display of colour and noise. Fast forward two weeks and it’s Manchester which provides the setting for the next instalment of pyrotechnical entertainment. Old Trafford to be precise. Manchester United entertain Liverpool in what should be an explosive encounter. Fireworks indeed!
Rivalry between the two clubs has always been intense. Both clubs have endured amazing success both domestically and on the European front, but for all the brilliant football played and abundance of trophies won, both clubs have suffered tragedies which have rocked their clubs to the very core. United suffering from the Munich air disaster in 1958 and Liverpool fans involved in that dark day at Hillsborough in ’89.
Liverpool are yet to win the Premier League, in fact they haven’t won the top division at all since 1990. Rival fans (mainly United) have used this as the butt of their jokes in recent seasons. Jurgen Klopp seems to have Liverpool playing to his tune this season. The recent victory at home to City was a big result for the Red men, who are currently second, five points behind leaders Chelsea. With three wins and a draw in their last four games, Klopp will be looking to put pressure on the Londoners. Philippe Coutinho had been a revelation until his injury in early autumn, but now looks like he is well on the way to being fit. Maybe a little too early for this game but who knows? With his silky skills and lightning pace, he’s faster than a gym filling up in early January and it will be a big bonus to have him back in the side. Kloppo will certainly not be wanting anymore daylight to appear between them and Chelsea.
United on the other hand are a different animal at the moment. 10 points behind Chelsea and occupying sixth spot, it’s they who could do with the points the most. It’s nearly four years since the last league title and many millions have been spent by three different managers. Both David Moyes and, more recently, Louis Van Gaal splashed out on expensive signings to continue the dynasty that Sir Alex Ferguson had created. Both were sacked and with only an FA Cup to show for Van Gaal’s efforts. Now it is the turn of Jose Mourinho. No stranger to spending an owner’s cash is Jose. Like a mistress let loose with a credit card on Oxford Street, he sets about with bringing in players to match his winning mentality. A slow start meant pressure fell on to Mourinho’s shoulders. Too many draws and not enough goals scored, albeit with some decisions supposedly going against his team, Jose claimed United were the Champions of wrong decisions! Louisa Johnson, xFactor winner was turning on the Xmas lights in Manchester but it seems that wasn’t all she was turning on! This coincided with Mourinho’s men starting an eight game winning run. The right balance seems to have been struck in United’s midfield. Carrick has been rolling back the years in front of a back four of which the manager seems to have stumbled across.
Whichever way you look at this game, it seems it’s going to be a real cracker. Expect some shots fired both on and off the pitch with two managers who are real live wires. Klopp once claimed that his Dortmund team playing against rivals Bayern Munich was like his team was armed with a catapult, whereas Munich had a bazooka. Let us hope that we get to see some all out attack from both the teams and managers.