Manchester United fans will be cheering for Liverpool on Sunday and that is a rare occurrence. The two most successful clubs in the history of English football have a rivalry that goes beyond football. The two cities are only about 35 miles apart in the same north-west region but they could be worlds apart when it comes to the relationship. Manchester and Liverpool are part of the Northern Powerhouse but that’s like saying Celtic and Rangers both play in Glasgow.
Even though the two conurbations are closely linked economically and a prosperous one is good for the other when it comes to football and to a lesser extent music the fans are definitely not batting for the same side. In recent years Manchester City have become massively wealthy and are now a fly in the ointment. Liverpool must beat City at home live on television this weekend to halt the inevitable journey to the 2017/18 Premier League title. Some bookmakers have already settled bets on City.
Fred Done is the founder and owner of Betfred and he is an avid Manchester United supporter. In the past he has paid out on his beloved team before the end of the season and been left with egg on his face. In one year Arsenal overhauled United so Fred had to pay out twice. If City avoid defeat at Anfield the bookies who have weighed in City punters will have no sleepless nights because the league would be done and dusted.
The vagaries of following a team and league positions are such that anyone associated with United will be beside themselves with joy if Liverpool beat the ‘noisy neighbours’. On the last day of the 1994/95 season Blackburn needed to match or better Manchester United who were away at West Ham. Liverpool supporters faced the dilemma of rooting for their side knowing that beating Blackburn could hand the title to United. Liverpool did win the fixture but Blackburn won the league because United drew their match in London.
This weekend’s scenario is not so crucial but City could be out of sight of the rest of the league if they don’t start losing matches. Even if Liverpool win the meeting it would take a dip in form of monumental proportions for City not to finish top in May. However, Liverpool have the attacking talent do some damage and can secure the result United crave by beating Manchester City. If so I don’t think there will be crisis talks at the Emirates and the manager’s job looks safe.
United are at home against Stoke next Monday and must take advantage of any City slip by earning three points. The waters are muddied by the fact that at the time of writing Stoke don’t have a permanent manager. Even if there is a new man in charge there is evidence that results don’t improve significantly when there is a fresh face picking the team and giving instructions. You won’t get rich backing United but they must be bankers to beat Stoke on the first evening of next week.
When Sam Allardyce became the manager of Everton results got better but they have lost their last two league fixtures and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool. Tottenham are back on form and have won three and drawn one of their last four Premier League matches. Current form would point to a home win for Tottenham and that should happen while Arsenal can beat Bournemouth on the road. However, it will be immaterial in the context of winning the league if Man City avoid defeat but Liverpool are fancied to beat them.