When Liverpool and Manchester United meet it is always a massive fixture for both clubs and their fans.
But this Sunday at Anfield the match will have wider significance, due to United and Liverpool being first and second in the Premier League.
It’s strange. A few weeks ago, the only discussion around United concerned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and why he was the wrong man to manage them.
Lo and behold, they pick up a few wins and now they are top of the league and full of momentum. It’s that kind of season.
Solskjaer deserves a lot of credit. He never reacted to any bad press and didn’t criticise his players. His man-management has been excellent.
His team have improved defensively, Paul Pogba has woken up, and Bruno Fernandes continues to be excellent.
Signing Edinson Cavani at 33 was a gamble but it has paid off. He has brought a guile missing from their other centre-forwards. Now they have a Plan B.
United can be lazy, and Pogba is the embodiment of that. But Cavani’s hard work has lifted everyone, Pogba included, and the wins have kept coming.
They go to Liverpool with their tails up this time and knowing that they won’t face a hostile atmosphere or the traditional welcome party lining the streets.
Three points ahead already, United don’t need to chase glory. They can set out with a game plan to counteract Liverpool, and Solskjaer has a good record in big games.
Why Liverpool and Man City are still my title favourites
For all that, and Liverpool’s recent struggles, the champions can’t be underestimated at home, where they haven’t lost a league game since April 2017.
I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with Jurgen Klopp’s team; their momentum has just been drained by injuries and the effects of the pandemic.
I expect a home win or a draw, but regardless of the result I still make Liverpool and Manchester City more likely to win the title than United.
City beat United relatively easily in the Carabao Cup and a Liverpool win this weekend might be another reality check for them.
Whatever happens this week, City can’t lose. A draw would be ideal, but if either Liverpool or United win, it will help City catch the other.
On their way to winning the league the last three seasons, City and Liverpool have wowed us with some dazzling football.
They may be top, but United never do that, despite having an abundance of talent.
Maybe this year is one in which doggedly grinding out results is enough, rather than being the most impressive side? It’s a bizarre, one-off campaign, so the usual rules don’t apply.
Either way, I’d like to see United be more pleasing on the eye and produce more of the natural, instinctive football that we know their players can.
Solskjaer has made a huge leap forward in showing that he can take them to the top of the table and that will buy him time.
Now he has that, he should show us that his team can play. If someone is top, I want to see why.