Manchester United are the only club to take points off runaway leaders Liverpool in the Premier League this season and they will try and do so again in Sunday’s match at Anfield.
Even the dreamiest of dreamers from the Old Trafford Theatre of Dreams would recognize, however, that it would be against the odds to come away from Merseyside with another positive result after the 1-1 draw in October.
One of the fiercest rivalries in English football has been one-sided of late. Liverpool, the European and world club champions and on course to become Premier League invincibles, have won their last 18 matches at Anfield and not lost at home in the top flight since April 2017.
The Reds have 61 points from a possible 63 and are on a club-record 38-match unbeaten run — their last defeat coming in January last year against Manchester City.
Juergen Klopp’s men have also scored in every league match this campaign, equalling the club’s best streak from the start of a season while going 585 minutes without conceding — six successive clean sheets.
United have lost six times this season and are fifth in the league, 27 points adrift of their arch-rivals having played one game more. Klopp, however, is preparing for another tricky challenge.
“The rest of the season is still quite long and we have a lot of tough games to play, the next one especially tough, and we have to make sure we are ready for that,” he said after Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Sunday.
United striker Marcus Rashford, who scored against Liverpool at Old Trafford, started Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the bench but he was sent on in the second half and lasted only 15 minutes before leaving the field due to injury.
That will be a major concern for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but better news for him is the likely return of defender Eric Bailly, sidelined since July with a knee injury.
Liverpool’s city rivals Everton will be in London for a clash at West Ham United on Saturday that pits the Toffees against their old boss David Moyes.
The Scot spent more than 11 years at Everton, before moving to Manchester United for a short and unhappy tenure, and guided them to fourth in the league in 2004-05.
Fond memories aside, defeat by Everton would be a serious blow to the 16th-placed Hammers’ bid to stay well clear of the relegation zone with only a point separating them from Aston Villa in 18th.
Second-placed Manchester City, the champions, host Crystal Palace on Saturday while Leicester City, third, are at Burnley in Sunday’s early kickoff.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur travel to Watford, revitalized under new manager Nigel Pearson. Fourth-placed Chelsea is at Newcastle United while Arsenal, in 10th, host high-flying Sheffield United at the Emirates.
Arsenal has top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended, however, after he collected a red card in the last match against Crystal Palace.
Bournemouth will be hoping to leap clear of the drop zone when they travel to Norwich City for a basement battle between the two bottom sides.