As the two prepare to meet for the second time this season, Khel Now examines arguably the greatest rivalry in English football through the numbers…
In what could be called The Tale of Two Cities, the Northwest Derby between Manchester United and Liverpool is a significant fixture during every Premier League season. It is the first game both fans look for when the fixture list is revealed and it is the one game each set of fans don’t want to lose.
The rivalry was never always this fierce. There was a point in time when Bill Shankly and Matt Busby were good friends. However, the rivalry escalated following the 1966/67 season. The two clubs shared the title equally between 1963 and 1967 with each club winning the league twice.
That year marked the last time Manchester United would win a league title for 26 years. During this period Liverpool achieved remarkable success, earning 11 league titles, 8 domestic cups, 4 European cups and 2 UEFA Cup trophies. This was when the rivalry between both clubs escalated to great heights. Liverpool were the crown jewel of English football and although Manchester United had the glamour of a big club, they did not have the success to match it.
However, in 1986 following the arrival of a Scot by the name of Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s fortunes were about to take a turn. Just like 1967 was a significant year for Manchester United fans, 1990 is a similarly significant year for Liverpool fans. It marks the last time Liverpool lifted the league title.
Just like Manchester United before them, Liverpool would see a 26-year period that saw no league success. This period brought Manchester United great success. They won 13 league titles, 9 domestic cups and 2 European Cups. In 2013 Alex Ferguson retired and since then Manchester United have struggled to make their presence felt in the league. This season is the 27th following Liverpool’s last triumph, the same number it took Manchester United to break their streak. Could this be the perfect way to close this chapter in the Tale of the Two Cities?
The last time the two clubs transferred a player was back in 1964 when Phil Chisnall moved from Manchester United to Liverpool. It can be argued that this was when the rivalry truly began. Liverpool won the league that season but Manchester United responded the following season. The two went on to share the next two league titles before Liverpool’s football dominance began.
This fixture has brought many memorable games and the 1977 FA Cup Final is a great beginning. Liverpool were flying high dominating both English and European football. The treble was in their sights. One obstacle they had to face was Manchester United in the FA Cup Final. Manchester United on the other hand were falling into oblivion. A once big club were fading away into the shadows created by the spotlight on Liverpool. This fixture was a chance for them to spoil Liverpool’s party. The game was decided by three goals in the space of five minutes. Manchester United took the lead with Stuart Pearson in the 51st minute but Liverpool quickly responded in the form of Jimmy Case. There was no rest time for Liverpool however, Manchester United hit right back when Jimmy Greenhoff scored in the 55th minute, which ultimately sealed the victory. This match was just a taste of what was to follow.
Another memorable fixture, maybe more for Manchester United fans than Liverpool, was the Premier League match between the two at Old Trafford on October 1st 1995. It marked Eric Cantona’s first game back following his famous attack on a spectator that earned him an eight-month suspension. Manchester United took the lead, however Liverpool struck two to go in front. In the 71st minute Manchester United were awarded a penalty and up stepped Cantona. He converted the spot-kick and earned his team a draw. At the end of the season both clubs met again in the FA Cup Final with Manchester United emerging winners through a late Cantona goal. A significant game for Liverpool fans took place during the 2000/01 Premier League season. Liverpool were on a 10-game losing streak against Manchester United. With the help of a 43rd minute Danny Murphy free-kick Liverpool ended the barren run and started a winning streak of their own. Although this would do little to dent Manchester United’s title run, it restored a little pride back on Merseyside.
There have been 197 official games played between the two teams. Manchester United have won 79 of those matches, while Liverpool have won 53. In the Premier League alone, the upcoming game will mark the 50th time the two teams have faced each other in the top flight. Manchester United have won 27 and Liverpool 13.
Liverpool’s heaviest defeat in this fixture during the Premier League era came on the 5th of April 2003. They suffered a 4-0 loss at Old Trafford with a brace from Ruud van Nistelrooy and goals from Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Liverpool have never beaten Manchester United by a 4-goal margin in the Premier League. Their biggest victories were a 4-1 win at Old Trafford during the 2008/09 season and a 3-0 win at Old Trafford during the 2013/14 season.
Ryan Giggs has appeared in this fixture the most with a total of 48 appearances. Steven Gerrard has the second most with 35 appearances. Both Paul Scholes and Jamie Carragher have played in this fixture 33 times. Gerrard has the most goals in this fixture with a total of 9, while Manchester United’s top scorer is Stan Pearson with 8 goals.
Last 5 Fixtures:
12 Sep 2015: Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
17 Jan 2016: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United (Premier League)
10 Mar 2016: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United (UEFA Europa League)
17 Mar 2016: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (UEFA Europa League)
17 Oct 2016: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United (Premier League)
2016/17 Premier League Season:
Liverpool Key Players:
- Phillippe Coutinho
- Adam Lallana
Manchester United Key Players:
- Paul Pogba
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Liverpool have had the best start of any Premier League season with 44 points from their first 20 games. Manchester United on the other hand have had a considerably slower start, however they have been picking up momentum with six wins in a row and are undefeated in the league for the last 11 games.
Key to Liverpool’s great run have been Phillippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. Coutinho, who is just returning from an injury, has 5 goals and 5 assists in 967 minutes. With an average of 0.93 goals and assists per 90 minutes, Coutinho’s influence on Liverpool’s attacking output goes unsaid. Similarly, Adam Lallana has been in the form of his life in a deeper midfield role. He has scored 7 goals and provided 7 assists in 1297 minutes. His return of 0.97 goals and assists per 90 minutes from midfield is staggering.
Manchester United have relied on their new recruits, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pogba who was a Manchester United youth product, recently returned to the club from Juventus for a world record fee. While Ibrahimovic is a global superstar himself, boasting league titles from France, Spain and Italy. Ibrahimovic is the 2nd highest goal scorer in the league behind Diego Costa with 13 goals and has also taken the most shots in the league with 86 in total. A constant threat in attack, Ibrahimovic’s presence in the line-up will cause a great threat to Liverpool’s defence.
The two players who have been instrumental in driving both teams’ midfield are Pogba and Henderson. This is reflected in the fact that these two players lead the Premier League’s passing charts. Henderson with 1650 passes and Pogba with 1398. Liverpool’s top scorer, Sadio Mane, will be absent for the fixture as he is due to play with Senegal at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon. He will prove to be a big miss for Liverpool as his contribution to their season has been great.
Manchester United recently announced their financial report for the 2015/16 fiscal year. Their revenues totalled £515.35 million which is a historic figure as it marks the first Premier League team to cross half-a-billion in revenues.
Liverpool have not announced their financial report for the 2015/16 fiscal year, however their revenues for the 2014/15 year totalled £297.95 million. This is lower than the revenues of Manchester United during the same season, which were £395.18 million.
- During the period between 1995 and 2015, Manchester United had a higher wage bill than Liverpool in all but one season (1997/98).
- Liverpool only finished above Manchester United twice during this period (2001/02 & 2013/14).