United's XI of Anfield heroes
Games at Anfield are the ultimate test for any Manchester United player.
Gary Neville, a man with more stake in this rivalry than most, knew the drill.
“I always think Anfield is a mad place,” he once said. “You are never safe there. If that crowd gets up, you are done.”
It takes an equal parts mix of backbone, composure and skill to come away from L4 with a result - and fortunately United sides down the years have had that in spades.
Without further ado, here's an XI of United players from the Premier League era, who saved their best for Liverpool away...
DAVID DE GEA
A veteran of 10 Anfield league appearances, the Spaniard was between the sticks for back-to-back wins under Louis van Gaal, but his finest performance in L4 came in 2017. United fought tooth and nail to come away with a goalless draw, but had De Gea to thank for a number of gravity-defying saves, including an incredible stretch to deny Joel Matip with his feet.
The fans’ favourite wasn’t known for his goalscoring ability, but he curled home one of the great United goals of the Premier League era at Anfield in 2012 to level the scores after Steven Gerrard’s opener, on a particularly emotional afternoon for the home fans, after the Hillsborough report was published. Robin van Persie scored a late winner from the spot.
Not many United forwards have scored a brace on the red side of Stanley Park, but that’s just what Pally did in a key game in the title race in April 1997. With the Merseysiders breathing down our necks, the centre-half nodded home twice in front of the Kop to put us well on our way to a fourth Premier League crown in five years.
Rio’s greatest moments against Liverpool may have come at Old Trafford – think the late, late winner in January 2006, and the finish-so-good-you-had-to-check-it-was-him in the autumn of that year. But the centre-back was present for three of four consecutive clean sheets on Merseyside between 2004/05 and 2007/08, while his iconic celebration with our next entry also helps his cause…
We just had to include Sheasy in here. The Irishman did what all United fans dream of, when tapping home a last-gasp winner at the Kop End in 2007, at the conclusion of a game Liverpool had dominated. Those are the best kind of wins!
DAVID BECKHAMBecks was always going to be a target for the partisan Anfield support, but he often channeled the abuse in the best possible way, raising his own game and inspiring United to victory. His most obvious highlight on Merseyside was the 1997 free-kick which left David James helpless, although he also provided trademark assists for Pallister (twice), Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
Juan, of course, netted the matchwinning brace in the March 2015 fixture between the sides. Both were great goals, although we think the acrobatic second edges it. In fact, it could well be the pick of the entire 33 we’ve scored at Anfield in the Premier League era!
Giggsy ran the gauntlet on the red half of Merseyside an incredible 18 times in the Premier League, scoring three goals and providing three assists. The Wales international’s stunning effort was a real highlight of the thrilling 3-3 draw in 1994 and then there was the pivotal brace early in the 2003/04 campaign.
A man whose rivalry with Liverpool was stronger than most, due to his Everton background, Rooney scored Premier League winners at Anfield for United 11 years apart. The first, in his maiden Reds campaign, led to a famous ear-cupping celebration before a hostile Merseyside crowd, while the second helped van Gaal’s Reds secure a smash-and-grab win in Jurgen Klopp’s early days with Liverpool.
The Uruguayan only played at Anfield twice – both wins – but it’s his December 2002 appearance which has gone down in Reds folklore. With the game deadlocked at 0-0 and an hour gone, Forlan, who had struggled to find the net in the early stages of his United career, pounced on a Jerzy Dudek mistake to score and followed it up with another three minutes later, kickstarting a new terrace chant…
No Red can match Coley’s four Anfield strikes during the Premier League era, with the first of those efforts coming in the titanic title tussle between the sides in 1997, which United won 3-1. The scoreline was exactly the same eight months on, when our no.9 struck twice, while he also made it on to the scoresheet – and was later sent off - in a manic 3-2 victory in 1999, featuring two Jamie Carragher own-goals.
Will anyone lay claim to being in this XI after Sunday's visit? Let's hope so...