Two cities less than 30 miles apart have a history of being rivals in more aspects of life than just football. When these two sides meet, the world takes notice ... as will be the case Monday at Anfield.
It has been said that the Premier League is becoming a league known for top-quality, big-name managers, and this is true on the touch line at Anfield. Awaiting is a fascinating tactical matchup between two of the world's best in Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Manchester United's Jose Mourinho.
Both clubs made significant additions to their squads this summer in hopes of challenging for the Premier League title. Klopp brought in defensive reinforcement in Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan, while adding speed on the wings in Sadio Mane and some needed steel in the midfield in the form of Georginio Wijnaldum.
Mourinho, on the other hand, took full advantage of United's financial clout and went for broke by spending over $100 million on Paul Pogba. There were other shrewd additions, though, as one can't overlook the acquisition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer, defender Eric Bailly or midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund.
As the season drew closer, pundits and fans alike jumped on the United bandwagon as the trendy pick to win the league. However, through the first seven matches of the campaign, it's been Liverpool (5-1-1) who have been the surprise package with their attacking flair and improved defensive stability.
After opening the season with a wild 4-3 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, inconsistency - a trait that has dogged Liverpool for years - reared its ugly head in a 2-0 to Burnley the following week.
Since then, Klopp's charges have seemingly been unstoppable, winning four of their next five fixtures. They triumphed 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, 4-1 over defending champions Leicester City and a 5-1 demolition of Hull City.
Liverpool's fierce stable of attacking midfielders includes Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Mane and Roberto Firmino. The addition of Matip alongside Dejan Lovren in the back to go with new goalkeeper Loris Karius, have given the Reds a level of defensive strength that hasn't been present in several years.
Of all the success the club has had early in the campaign, their most recent result, a 2-1 win over Swansea City at Liberty Stadium on Oct. 1, could be the biggest indicator that Klopp may have his boys ready to challenge for the title.
The Swans grabbed the lead after an eighth-minute strike, but Liverpool responded with goals from James Milner and Firmino in the second half.
Liverpool head into this clash with supreme confidence knowing they are in an excellent position with an opportunity to make things very difficult for their chief rivals going forward.
"It's a very important game for us," midfielder Emre Can told Liverpoolfc.com. "I think you have to forget the games before."
When these rivals meet, the form guide generally goes out the window.
"Of course, you have to take the confidence from the games, but a derby against Manchester United is always different," Can said. "We are confident enough to say that we want to win the game and we will give our best to win the game.
On the other side of the pitch, things have not quite gone to plan for Mourinho's United (4-1-2). After winning their opening three fixtures, the club lost three straight across all competitions. They rebounded with a 4-1 thumping of Leicester, but managed only a 1-1 draw with struggling Stoke City prior to the international break.
United took the lead with 21 minutes to play thanks to a goal from Anthony Martial, but it was canceled out by former Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen in the 82nd minute.
Wayne Rooney was dropped from the starting squad for that fixture. Now, Mourinho has another potential distraction on his hands as he tries to figure out whether his team performs better with Rooney occupying the bench.
Defender Chris Smalling realizes the stakes are high in this contest.
"Yeah, it is the one," Smalling told the club's official television channel. "Even when I first joined up here, they all mentioned that obviously you know about City and United. But Liverpool - this is the one. With the way the rivalry has brewed over the years because it's been so competitive, it was stressed to me and especially the new lads now how important this fixture is.
"They have always been tough games. I think even in the last one (in January), they probably played far better than us but we took our chance. We know they're a high-pressing team and we're not going to get much time on the ball, so we need to be prepared for that."
On the injury front for United, defender Luke Shaw and Mkhitaryan are both available for selection. Shaw has not played since a 3-1 defeat to Watford on Sept. 18, while Mkhitaryan last featured during the Manchester Derby on Sept. 10.
For Liverpool, Lovren and fellow defender Nathaniel Clyne are facing a race for fitness to be in contention for selection, Lallana and Wijnaldum, meanwhile, have not been ruled out for Monday.
Lallana was forced off with a groin injury against Swansea, while Wijnaldum had to be subbed off 62 minutes into the Netherlands' 1-0 defeat to France on Oct. 10 after picking up what appeared to be a hamstring issue.
"(They are) not too bad but it's a question of perspective, I would say," Klopp said. "In this moment, we don't know exactly who is available. We all know about the obvious issues with Gini and Adam but they are both not ruled out for Monday. Dejan and Nathaniel trained Tuesday and Wednesday so they are in the race."
Manchester United did the league double over Liverpool for the second straight campaign in 2015-16. United won 3-1 at Old Trafford and Rooney scored the only goal in the 78th minute at Anfield in January. However, fortunes were reversed in the Europa League round of 16 as Liverpool beat United 3-1 on aggregate en route to the final.
United have won four straight Premier League matches against Liverpool. United have had just one longer winning streak against the Reds in the Premier League era, winning five straight from January 2006 to March 2008.