By Peter Auf der Heyde
On Sunday, Liverpool and Manchester United played to a goalless draw in a top-of-table clash in the Premier League. This Sunday, Mohamed Salah and Marcus Rashford clubs meet again in Manchester in the FA Cup fourth round.
Few will argue with the point that the North West Derby is one of the highlights on the English football calendar – having it part of the FA Cup is like the cherry on top.
There is no domestic cup competition that has the stature of the FA Cup, which is not only the oldest knock-out competition in the world but it is undoubtedly also the most widely-known football tournament exclusive to one country.
Both teams have enjoyed considerable success in the past, but surprisingly Liverpool’s last appearance in the championship match dates back to 2012, when they were beaten by Chelsea.
The Blues also saw off Manchester United in their last final in 2018.
United have added one of the most sought-after youngsters to their squad ahead of the game and coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has even hinted that Amad Diallo could be in line for a debut.
The 18-year-old Ivorian winger, agreed to terms with United last year, but only made the move from Serie A club Atalanta last week over work permit concerns.
Solskjaer told Norwegian media that: “He’s an exciting player who will get time. He’s a young player who has really exciting qualities but he needs time to get used to the physical style in England. That speaks for itself when he’s 18.
“He’s got all the ingredients to become a very good player, so we’ll give him time. Let him get time. Whether that’s against Liverpool in the FA Cup, this weekend, two weeks, three weeks. We’ll see.”
The two teams have faced each other 17 times in the competition (the first two times United were still known as Newton Heath). The Reds have a clear statistical advantage, having won nine of the 17 matches, with four going the way of Liverpool.
Both finals between the two clubs (1977 and 1996) were also won by United.
Liverpool defender Neco Williams, who played in his side’s 4-1 third round victory against Aston Villa, said they were aware that they had not done well in the FA Cup for a while.
“I think the more rounds we go through the FA Cup then hopefully the more game time I can get. The FA Cup is not a cup we have done that well in, so I think this year we are looking forward to pushing on and to get to the final and hopefully win it.”
Sunday’s match is one of three all-English Premier League clashes, with Arsenal traveling to Southampton and Fulham at home to Burnley in the other two games.
For the lowest-ranked club left in the FA Cup, Chorley, who plays their league football in the sixth tier of the football pyramid, their football fairy tale continues with a home game against Wolves.
African football fans will be able to see all the action from the FA Cup fourth round live and in HD on the TopStar channels. They will find out which of Sadio Mane and Bruno Fernandes clubs will qualify for the fifth round.