Hi. Manchester United v Liverpool is such a big fixture that it deserves its own Blackadder equality. And this one feels even bigger than usual. The context of today's match can be summed up with a number and a football season.
The figure is 18. If Liverpool win today they will compare Manchester City's English record with 18 consecutive series wins and move three points closer to finally add their 1
The season is 1989-90. That was when Liverpool last won the title and when United last had such a poor start to the season. One consequence of these is that it was also the last time Liverpool came to Old Trafford as an overwhelming favorite. In March 1990, they won 2-1 and scored three goals – two from John Barnes and an absurd own goal from Ronnie Whelan.
That game was 16th against 2nd in the table; today it is the 14th and the 1st, and Liverpool is a draw with all the bookmakers we could find during a admittedly clever internet search. They don't often win at Old Trafford – eight times in the last 50 visits – but these victories are in turn memorable. There have been five in the Premier League era, three Danny Murphys from 2000-04 and two squares in 2008-09 and 2013-14. The last of them, a 3-0 humiliation that almost propelled Liverpool to the title, is a potential precedent for today.
An experienced United side threw the towel that afternoon. If something similar happens here, the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjær can become unbearable. It is unlikely, but not quite beyond the world, that Liverpool can get a United manager looted for the second season in a row.
But there are some precedents in United's favor, football is a fun old game and all. Ten years ago this weekend United went to Anfield with Liverpool in concern. The beach ball goal at Sunderland made them a laughing stock, they were on a run of four straight defeats and it was open season at Rafael Benitez.
A cautious United missed the chance to put a nervous Liverpool away and an exciting performance in the second half gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory. And even though Benitez left the summer anyway, it helped the victory ultimately deny United a record fourth title in a row.
United have already helped deny Liverpool a title, with the dogged 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in February, and would probably give up their entire list of official partners for a win today. Liverpool will be happy with all old record equivalents, but they would love to humiliate United if possible.
There is just one more thing: it will be emotional.
Kick off is at 4.30 pm.