No Premier League game provokes more passion, excitement and emotion than the North-West derby between Manchester United and Liverpool.
With the ultra-competitive race for points at the top of the table providing no margin for error, the meeting between the two heated rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday comes with more than its fair share of intrigue.
United are on a roll.
The Red Devils have rattled off nine victories in a row in all competitions, and for the first time in Jose Mourinho’s time in charge, are looking like the ruthless winning machine of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has 10 goals in his last 10 appearances, is leading the line with aplomb, and United have a settled, vibrant side.
The only trouble for Mourinho is that despite this winning streak, they are no higher in the table now than they were when the run started – sitting in sixth throughout, thanks to the relentless consistency of the teams above them.
Since United’s winning run started in December, the top six have won a combined 25 out of 33 games between them – and most of the eight that weren’t won were when sides played each other.
That figure meant Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Sunderland appeared close to disaster – despite beating Manchester City two days before.
Just five points separates Jurgen Klopp’s men in second and United in sixth.
Liverpool’s four victories from four over Christmas have been followed by a less happy start to 2017.
After Sunderland, the Reds drew 0-0 with Plymouth in the FA Cup, and were beaten 1-0 by Southampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
With Sadio Mane departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, Klopp will hope his charges can maintain the attacking verve that put them in the title picture.
I’m not sure if they will though.
United have only conceded three times in their nine-game run, and I think they’ll have enough to shut out a Liverpool side that looked toothless against Southampton.
With Ibrahimovic in form, I’ll be backing a narrow United win at 6/5 with Paddy Power.
The game earlier in the season produced a forgettable 0-0 draw, and I can’t see there being too many goals on Sunday.
Sell total goals at 2.55 with Sporting Index.
Man United - 6/5 (Paddy Power)
Sell total goals - 2.55 (Sporting Index)