The North West derby has traditionally been England's premier club game. Rarely though has this fixture determined the winner of the domestic league title. In fact, 2009 is probably the only time these two sides competed for a league title. Liverpool's dominance during the times of black and white television coincided with dark days at United. When the skies cleared for the Red Devils, their arch rivals plunged into a pit of league title poverty that has seen them clear a quarter of a century without being tagged English champions. In fact, despite holding an 11 titles lead over the current champions back in 1990, they've watched on as United have not only wiped out that lead but established a 2 titles lead themselves to become England's principal club.
True to the contrasting form of the sides in this fixture, this weekend sees the two old rivals meet with the Dippers in form, at the top end of the league and United enduring a forgettable season. It's hard to remember the last time Liverpool came to Old Trafford as favourites but such are the times. Brendan Rogers has done a great job of building his side around the talents of a cannibal and a lad that was not told he couldn't dance well back in school.
As it is, this game marks a run of crucial games in a ten day period that will define what is left for our season. In the grand scheme of things though, a lot about the attitude of the current crop will be put to the test in these fixtures. Lying down against a foreign opponent in Europe is one thing but doing it against our arch rivals is another. Regardless of the futures of some players, they should be seen to be giving a hundred percent on a day when you feel anything less could be punished.
We've beaten Liverpool at home already this season in the League Cup with a weaker side so there's nothing to suggest that the job is beyond our means. In a season where we shall look back and struggle to pick positives, you feel such games are all that is left to toast about this season.
Whether the playing staff is tuned to that reality is something we shall find out on Sunday.