Barclays Premier League fans can watch Liverpool F.C. battle Manchester United live online Sunday, as the most heated and storied rivalry in English football — and one of the top sporting rivalries anywhere — enters another dramatic chapter at Old Trafford, in the 188th meeting between the two clubs since they first squared off in 1894.
The match has been called England’s version of El Clasico, the showdown between the two biggest Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, with Liverpool struggling in the Premier League this season, and Manchester United just finding its stride after a slow start, this first of two Premier League fixtures between the two most decorated clubs in English football history — representing England’s two major northern cities less than 40 miles apart — may be somewhat lacking in its usual glamor.
But don’t tell that to the fans, or the players and coaches, for whom this match is like a season unto itself. Even though Liverpool sits in 9th place with 21 points, while Manchester United, going for its sixth straight win, now occupy third. The English press is already labeling this game the single biggest in Liverpool Manager Brendan Rogers‘ career.
At the same time, Manchester United first-year Manager Louis Van Gaal is said to be facing “serious criticism” if United fail to put Liverpool in their place — even though Van Gaal is just 15 matches into his tenure at Old Trafford, and his side has won eight of those while dropping only three.
Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage already this season, finishing with only one victory, while Van Gaal has Manchester United poised for a return to Europe’s top club competition after missing out completely on this year’s tournament.
In a rivalry such as Liverpool vs. Manchester United, however, history takes precedence over whatever the current situation may be. And these two clubs have the proudest histories in the English game, with 38 league trophies between them — 20 for United, 18 for Liverpool. The two teams have also captured the FA Cup 18 times, with Liverpool winning seven, United 11.
Manchester United leads the all-time series 75-51, with the two sides coming up even in 64 meetings.
This time around Manchester United is the clear favorite, bringing their five-game winning streak into a home match. Liverpool is suffering from a decimated front four with Luis Suarez long since departed for Barcelona, Mario Balotelli proving to be an overrated bust, Daniel Sturrudge injured, and Rickie Lambert battling fatigue after playing 90 minutes in five straight starts before pulling out of the Champions League match against Basel with half the game remaining.
On the United side, however, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie remain world class strikers, and both will be available for Sunday’s showdown.
Manchester United also has the advantage at the back, with David De Gea emerging as one of the world’s top keepers, while Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet has been unable to compensate for his team’s shaky defenders.
The two rivals are not scheduled to meet again until March 21, 2015, at Anfield.
Watch the most anticipated match in English football, Manchester United Vs. Liverpool, live online in the United States via NBC Sports Live Extra by clicking this link. The lunchtime fixture in Manchester starts at 7:30 am Eastern Standard Time, 4:30 am Pacific, in the U.S.