The rivalry between current champions Liverpool and league leaders Manchester United will reach fever pitch on Sunday as both sides battle for Premier League top spot.
There is plenty at stake in this crunch clash between the division’s top two sides at the weekend, with the chance to earn bragging rights further accentuated with the opportunity of topping the table.
First place is currently occupied by Manchester United, who went top of the league for the first time since 2013 on Tuesday thanks to a 1-0 victory over Burnley.
Paul Pogba’s deflected strike at Turf Moor ensured United leapfrogged Liverpool at the top – the first time they’d reached the Premier League summit since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford having scooped the club’s 20th top flight title.
United’s 20 titles is an English club record – but Liverpool closed the gap to their arch rivals with their first league crown in 30 years last campaign – their 19th in total.
The decline at Old Trafford since the departure of Sir Alex has coincided with Liverpool’s rise under Jurgen Klopp, with the Merseysiders arguably unlucky not to have picked up more than just the one Premier League title in recent years whilst United have languished.
Liverpool have however forged an incredible undefeated streak on their own patch during that period, going unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League for more than three years.
As remarkable as that record is, Liverpool are still some way off Chelsea’s outrageous run at Stamford Bridge which came between 2004-2008 – even if the Reds didn’t lose at Anfield between now and the end of the season, their 78 games without defeat would still pail in comparison to the Blues’ 86 matches unbeaten.
Regardless of this, Liverpool’s stretch is no doubt an immense source of pride for Jurgen Klopp and his players, something which they will want to defend with increased determination.
A win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will open up a six-point gap at the top, and with Manchester City quietly going about their business close behind, things are shaping up to be a fascinating title race.
Injuries have been a key factor in the narrative of Liverpool’s season to date, particularly in central defence, with three first team regulars out of action.
Virgil van Dijk remains a long term absentee with knee ligament damage, as does fellow centre half Joe Gomez with a similar problem.
Injury-prone Joel Matip has also been sidelined lately, but it remains to be seen whether the big game against United comes too soon for him after stepping up his recovery recently.
Diogo Jota is still in a knee brace and won’t be involved, neither will seldom seen Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas with an almost identical issue.
Naby Keita, another player with a chequered injury history, could be involved.
Manchester United welcomed Edinson Cavani back from injury against Burnley after suspension and is likely to once again be involved at Anfield – but there are concerns over fellow forward Anthony Martial who is rated touch-and-go to play following complaints of a tight hamstring midweek.
Nemanja Matic is another who is rated 50-50 with a tight groin, but Facundo Pellistri is ruled out due to testing positive for coronavirus.
Marcos Rojo is still in Argentina and won’t make the squad, neither will Phil Jones who continues his rehab for a knee injury.
Victor Lindelof sat out of the last two fixtures with back trouble but trained through the week and could be picked to face Liverpool.
Battle for top spot in the Premier League takes place on Sunday at 4.30pm as Liverpool take on Manchester United.