Add up all the competitions and there’s a big total: 190. That’s the number of matches played since Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 in a test match on Saturday, April 28, 1894.
More than 120 years later, two sides of players with much better technology, training and tools set forth to make statements about their current squads: Manchester United aiming to continue its rise to title contention, and Liverpool hoping to put its campaign on the right track.
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Old Trafford is the site on Sunday, and it’s played host for a number of recent memorable encounters. There was the 4-1 shocker in 2009, where Cristiano Ronaldo was the only Manchester United player to score as the Reds rang up four unanswered goals. Or the Dimitar Berbatov hat trick that sunk the Reds 3-2 in 2010.
But the biggest bouts came when both teams were even stronger. There’s the 1983 Milk Cup final, decided in extra time with Ronnie Whelan netting for the Reds. And the 1977 FA Cup final, featuring a 2-1 win that denied Liverpool the treble.
Perhaps the best one is this 1994 encounter, as the visiting Red Devils went up 3-0 until to find themselves taking just a point out of Anfield.
Watch the crowd, and watch the celebrations. Soccer in England is great now, but the ferocity coming from Steve Bruce and company — let alone Ryan Giggs’ hair and that 20th minute goal — in 1994 is out of this world. This was a time when players switched allegiances far less often, and Sir Alex Ferguson had brown hair.
Let’s hope Sunday gives us anything close to this: