Liverpool hold the whip hand over Manchester United for the first time in decades and could land a devastating blow on their rivals’ top-four challenge at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Having endured year upon year of United supremacy, Liverpool have turned the tables this season and approach this weekend’s match 11 points above their floundering foes in the English Premier League table.
While Liverpool still have eyes on the title, United’s bid for Champions League qualification is in dire straits as they trail fourth-place Manchester City by nine points, having played two games more.
David Moyes’ side have already lost at home four times in the league this season and they can expect no sympathy from a Liverpool team whose fans have endured season after season of torment at United’s hands.
Not since September 2004 have Liverpool gone into a league game at Old Trafford above United in the table and it was 23 years ago – in February 1991 – when that was last the case for a fixture played after Christmas.
Only once, in 2002, have Liverpool finished above United in the post-1992 Premier League era, but current manager Brendan Rodgers has warned against paying too much attention to the relative fortunes of the two teams.
While Rodgers has been eager to play down Liverpool’s title chances, he says silverware, rather than success against United, will be the only reliable barometer of his team’s progress.
“The benchmark for us is the best,” he said. “First of all, we are always challenging the team at the top; not Manchester United, who are further down.
“Liverpool has its own great history both domestically and in European football, so for us the benchmark has always been the best and we will always look to do that.
“I never said when I came in here we wanted to be fourth. Top four is where we want to be, but Liverpool will always be judged on being the best, both here and in Europe, not against Manchester United.”