THE coming together of Manchester United and Liverpool in the English Premier League has for many moons been the standout fixture of the season.
It is a clash that generates immense excitement across the world of football and is a constant source of great pain and unbridled joy.
When these two giants of the game go head-to-head today, there will be nothing short of the same expected at Old Trafford.
Here in Kuala Lumpur, two former Man United stalwarts, and now living legends of the Premiership, Denis Irwin and David May, will join thousands of local football fans at a screening a of the match at Berjaya Times Square.
Guests of the Gulf Oil (South-East Asia), one of Manchester United’s international sponsors, Irwin and May both predicted a closely fought contest.
Irwin stuck his neck out to forecast a narrow 2-1 win for the Red Devils, while May opted to sit on the fence and said it would be a 1-1 draw.
“Liverpool are a team in good form, scoring a lot of goals and on a really good run recently,” said Irwin, who won seven Premiership titles and a Champions League winners’ medal, among other accolades, during his time at Man United.
“They are playing with a lot of confidence and it will be a difficult match for us.
“But we are at home and I think we’ll just about edge it 2-1,” he boldly predicted.
“Even though Liverpool sold Philippe Coutinho for a lot of money in January, they’ve continued to score plenty of goals. And Mo Salah is on fire.
“He’s surprised a lot of people - because he plays on the wing, but he cuts in and causes all sorts of problems.
“It’s not just his ability but the amount of goals he’s scored (joint top-scorer in the league with 24).
“They also have Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in a front-three that is very good and very dangerous. We’ll need to keep an eye on them,” added Irwin.
May, with a Champions League title and two Premiership crowns to his credit from his days at Old Trafford, was also wary of the threat that Liverpool pose today.
“I’m sure it will be tough game. But we are two points ahead of them at the moment and we don’t want to lose any ground to them,” he said.
With this in mind, May added: “A lot will depend on how Jose Mourinho set-ups the team for the game.
“For sure, he won’t want to get beaten – they are our arch-rivals. And if they don’t beat us, I think Mourinho would settle for that and be happy with a draw, never mind a win.
“There will be eight games to go after this one, so being two points (with a draw) ahead, I think he’ll take that.”
On whom he would like to do well for Man United, May said: “I’d love to see Alexis Sanchez play well in this match.
“Over the last couple of games, he struggled and I’d love to see him get a goal, particularly against Liverpool.”
Gulf Oil Business Development (SEA) vice-president David Richard also predicted a 2-1 victory for the home team.
“It should be close and I think Man United will score right at the end to win it,” he said with a smile.
Gulf Oil key account manager Daniel Tan predicted a high-scoring encounter.
“Liverpool can score goals, but they also concede a few, so that could lead to a number of goals on the day.
“I think Man United will come away with an exciting 3-2 win.”