Liverpool and Manchester United are set to face off in a highly anticipated match on Sunday, with both clubs in very different positions. Erik ten Hag’s Liverpool team are on the rise after winning the Carabao Cup and have their sights set on challenging for the Premier League title. Meanwhile, the Reds are struggling in mid-table and may not qualify for the Champions League next year.
Despite their differing scenarios, the form books are often thrown out the window when these two rivals meet. The intense competition between the two clubs has led to some controversial moments over the years, including leg-crunching tackles, brutal red cards, and heated confrontations.
One such moment occurred during Steven Gerrard’s final tour of English grounds in his last year at Liverpool. United arrived at Anfield with Gerrard named on the bench, which clearly riled the Liverpool captain. After being introduced at half-time, Gerrard flew through Juan Mata before stamping on Ander Herrera just seconds later, resulting in his red card just 38 seconds into his appearance.
Another notable moment involved Nemanja Vidic, who received three successive red cards across 2008 and 2009. The first came in the dying seconds of a match against Liverpool after elbowing Xabi Alonso and receiving a second yellow. In the following match, Liverpool trounced United 4-1 with Fernando Torres tormenting Vidic throughout the afternoon at Old Trafford. Vidic completed his hat-trick of red cards in the opening months of the next season after pulling Dirk Kuyt down on the halfway line as the last man with seconds left on the clock.
The rivalry between Liverpool and United turned dark when Luis Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrick Evra in October 2011. In the reverse fixture, Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand during pre-match handshakes, leading to a melee on the pitch when United beat Liverpool that day. The two sides also clashed in the tunnel when Evra confronted Suarez over why he refused to shake his hand, leading to police and stewards getting involved to break up the fracas.
During a clash between Paul Scholes and Xabi Alonso in 2007, tensions boiled over when Alonso gave Scholes a tug as he tried to race away with the ball. Scholes responded by aiming a vicious right hook at Alonso, narrowly missing him by centimeters. Referee Martin Atkinson had no choice but to send Scholes off for his moment of madness.
In 2011, Jamie Carragher’s horror challenge on Nani forced off the winger on a stretcher. Carragher avoided a red card but sent an apology to the Red Devils dressing room after the match and tried to speak to Nani to insist he was sorry. Years later, Carragher admitted he lost sleep over his challenge.
Finally, Jonjo Shelvey’s scything tackle on Jonny Evans in 2012 earned him a red card in his first match against United in Liverpool colors. As he made his way to the tunnel, Shelvey started screaming aggressively at Sir Alex Ferguson, gesturing towards the legendary United manager as Liverpool coaches ushered him away. After the match, Ferguson said he expected an apology from Shelvey, which he eventually provided via Twitter.
Despite these controversial moments, Liverpool and United remain two of the most successful clubs in English football history and their rivalry is sure to continue for many years to come.