Bigger than Manchester derby - Fergie

2014-03-16 14:00

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As football rivalries go, few are bigger than Manchester United vs Liverpool, or Arsenal and Tottenham’s ­battle for the North London bragging rights.

Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps in a snide dig at the “noisy neighbours”, always insisted the clashes between United and Liverpool were bigger than the Manchester derby.

It would also be safe to say there are many United fans who would find the prospect of their bitter cross-city rivals being crowned champions more palatable than watching Liverpool hoist the Premier League title.

After delivering on his promise to knock Liverpool off their perch when he took over at Old Trafford, it must grate on Fergie’s nerves to see the Reds scampering into the distance, with his beloved Red Devils gasping, a country mile behind.

A win over Liverpool will not save United’s season, but it would go a long way towards appeasing fans chastened by their club’s underwhelming season.

If they can’t win it themselves, nothing would give David Moyes’ men more satisfaction than dealing a terminal blow to their archrivals’ title challenge.

Liverpool go into the clash as favourites, but defeat for Brendan Rodgers’ men would not fall into the category of an upset.

The Luis Suárez-Daniel Sturridge love-in shows no signs of abating, and for a good reason.

On the other hand, a side boasting such talents as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj can at the very least be expected to make a fist of the clash.

Liverpool must win to stay on the leaders’ coat tails,

as must United if they are to keep their receding and

increasingly forlorn top-four hopes alive. That is the long and short of it.

Elsewhere, the North London derby takes place against an intriguing backdrop, with both sides coming into the clash on the back of defeats in Europe.

Spurs are in a meltdown. The 3-1 defeat by Benfica was not the response Tim Sherwood expected after his side’s 4-0 capitulation at Chelsea last weekend.

Against Arsenal today he has the perfect opportunity to bring back the feel-good factor he engendered following his elevation to the manager’s position.

Giving Spurs fans the bragging rights and reason to lord it over their nemeses would be the perfect parting gift.

Unfortunately for Sherwood, Arsenal have their own ­garment to mend.

The Gunners will still be smarting after their Champions League dream was deferred for another season.

Their focus is now firmly on tightening the nuts and bolts on their rickety title bus.

Derby facts

Derbies by numbers

33:?The number of defensive errors made by Liverpool players in comparison to the 15 made by Manchester United players

34:?United have created 34 clear-cut chances this season while Liverpool have engineered 66

47:?Liverpool have scored 47 first-half goals this season. Manchester United have scored 46 in the entire season so far

Tottenham v Arsenal

5:?Arsenal have failed to win any of the last five derbies at White Hart Lane

10:?Emmanuel Adebayor has scored more goals than any other player in this fixture. The striker has scored eight goals for Arsenal and two for Spurs

1: Tottenham have only managed one clean sheet in the last 30 derbies

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