(written by Callum Owen)
Liverpool and Manchester United- England’s two most successful teams, England’s two biggest teams, two of Europe’s biggest sides and a rivalry that spans generations.
A meeting between these two sides is a special occasion, something that the FA Cup has experienced many times.
In the FA Cup, the sides have met 17 times. United picking up nine wins, Liverpool triumphing in four fixtures, along with four draws.
In this time we have witnessed some special fixtures, three of which I will look at today.
January 28th, 2012 (Fourth round): Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United
Whilst this game wasn’t the most significant, it is still worth looking back upon.
It is, in fact, the most recent meeting between the two sides in the FA Cup.
Liverpool hosted Manchester United at Anfield, in what was a very different situation for the hosts than we see today. Liverpool were struggling, under Kenny Dalglish, they were fighting to even make the Europa League spots in the Premier League, whilst Manchester United, similarly to today, were locked in a title fight with rivals Manchester City.
Liverpool opened the scoring through a first-half Daniel Agger header, giving them the lead at the break. But, United would strike back through Ji-Sung Park, seemingly securing a replay for the ‘Red Devils’. However, just two minutes from time, substitute, Dirk Kuyt struck, sending Liverpool through to the fifth round.
What was significant about this? Well, it kickstarted Liverpool’s journey all the way to the FA Cup final, where they would lose to Chelsea; however, in a season with an underperforming side and few highlights – excluding a League Cup victory – this was significant for Liverpool.
Additionally, it meant that United’s winless run at Anfield continued, dating back to 2007. A small form of bragging rights for the Reds.
May 11th, 1996, FA Cup final: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United
Famously known as the ‘Spice boy’ final, due to Liverpool’s decision to show up the match wearing all-white Armani suits, United triumphed at Wembley.
The game itself wasn’t particularly memorable, but it took one moment of brilliance from Eric Cantona to ensure that Manchester United would win the 1996 FA Cup. In the 85th minute, the Frenchmen converted a volley, sending the travelling United fans crazy.
This game was also memorable for Alex Ferguson’s comments.
Allegedly, he told his assistant, Brian Kidd, that Manchester United would go on to win 1-0, after seeing the white suits worn by the Liverpool side.
Furthermore, Ferguson would later call the white suits ‘ridiculous’, a view shared by Liverpool defender Neil Ruddock, with Ferguson additionally claiming that they were the reason that United took victory in the final.
Who knows why.
May 21st, 1977, FA Cup final: Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
Possibly the most famous FA Cup game between the two sides, and a huge victory for Manchester United.
There were a lot of different backdrops to the 1977 final. Firstly, Liverpool were on the verge of securing a historic treble, already First division champions, and due to face Borussia Monchengladbach four days later in the European cup final – a match the Reds would win.
Secondly, following defeat to Southampton in the previous years’ competition, United manager Tommy Doherty had promised to win the 1977 competition, so the pressure was well and truly on for both sides.
United opened the scoring through a Stuart Pearson volley, only to be pegged back by another volley, this time through Liverpool’s Tommy Case, two minutes later.
However, the drama was far from over. Manchester United’s Lou Macri struck a volley, only for the attempt to hit team-mate, Jimmy Greenhoff, in the chest, rebounding into the Liverpool net. Thus, winning the game for United.
This secured a famous victory for United, in the first FA Cup final meeting between the two sides. Yet, the best of this final was to come 22-years later.
In 1999, Manchester United won a historic treble, becoming the first English side to do so, meaning their victory in 1977 had helped them to create history.
With the two sides meeting at Old Trafford this Sunday, could there be another famous FA Cup meeting between the two in-store?