It is not like this game needs any further hype. Liverpool versus Manchester United can sell out any stadium anywhere but this weekend’s tie will be played under an even more intense spotlight than normal.
Coming on the back of the revised Hillsborough findings and all the emotion entailed in that, there is also the fact that Liverpool have not yet won in the league going into this game, and United, while not looking totally convincing have produced three wins on the bounce following the unexpected loss to Everton on the first day of the season.
And while handshakes have been on the agenda over the last weekend, we have the prospect of Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra lining up opposite each other again, presuming Evra can displace Alexander Buttner after his impressive debut display against Wigan.
So emotions will no doubt be running high, and to add to the intensity the authorities will be hoping there will be no repeat of some of the chanting which were thought to come from the Stretford End during the Wigan game.
The passion which both sets of fans generate during this fixture is something which makes it the game that it is, but it’s important that both sides understand the sensitivity surrounding proceedings.
Before all this, Liverpool have to travel to Switzerland in the Europa league, while United host Galatasary in Manchester. A tricky Thursday night in Bern is not the best preparation for such a game for the Anfield side.
On the pitch United have to go into the game as heavy favourites. Their new signings look to have settled into the club quicker than their Liverpool counterparts and Pepe Reina’s early season form has given the Merseysiders cause for concern in the goalkeeping department for the first time since his signing in 2005.
Although Wayne Rooney won’t be fit, Robin Van Persie will be and with the goal scoring debut of Nick Powell, and Javier Hernandez looking like he is rediscovering some form, it looks like Sir Alex Ferguson will have options in the attacking department.
This is where Liverpool are deficient. Suarez apart they haven’t a legitimate goal scoring threat and Rodgers decision to let Kuyt and Carroll leave is looking like increasing folly. If anything does happen to Suarez, injury or suspension than Liverpool will be playing the likes of Gerrard and the emerging Sterling upfront.
Are Liverpool in crisis? Maybe not yet but their hated rivals can certainly push them nearer to the brink at the weekend.
It will be Brendan Rodgers third huge home game following the credible point against the champions and the near capitulation against Arsenal. He will want to get something out of this game more than anyone with all that it symbolises.
He will also want to see evidence that his revolution has legs, otherwise the owners may start feeling that they have made a mistake, and the job is indeed too big for the Northern Irishman.
For United, the football is all which can take precedence. They can have no effect on the emotion of the occasion, and will go there to get in, do the job and get out with as little controversy as is possible.
The gloating and animosity which surrounds this fixture can wait for another time. Ferguson is correct, the two clubs need to start building bridges. The dislike will always be there, but the grudging respect needs to return.
image: © kevinzim