Good afternoon, sports fans! And welcome to our live-blog on this early season clash of the titans, between Manchester United and Liverpool. Actually, you know, all is not quite well in the House of Trafford and the House of Anfield, at present. Manchester United’s end of transfer window activity had the hint of a single father in a toy shop at ten to five on Christmas Eve about it, performances have been sluggish even before defeat in their last match against Swansea City, and Louis Van Gaal had to say “I am not a dictator” at a press conference last week, which doesn’t exactly sound like the confidence-swelling statement that it was presumably intended to be. Still, David de Gea has signed a new contract. Presumably he spent his summer in college, on some sort of Burnt Bridges Restoration Project. He’d better not go kissing the badge, or anything dumb like that.

With so many eyes focussed on the drabness on display at Old Trafford and – especially – Stamford Bridge at the moment, Liverpool have been a little out of the spotlight so far this season, but their start has been no better than Manchester United’s, so far. Two wins against Stoke City and Bournemouth both came by a single solitary goal, and performance in the their last home match against West Ham United was as abject as any seen at Anfield in recent years. So Brendan Rodgers is back under pressure again. No change there, then. For all of the relative mediocrity of both of these teams so far this season, though, this is still An Event. North-west England’s Game of Thrones. Manchester United vs Liverpool always is, isn’t it? If only for all the bad blood, and all that. Who will say something racist at someone today? Who will say the stupidest thing about this match on Twitter? (Apart from me, that is.) Stay tuned to find out. We’ll be back about fifteen minutes before kick-off with team news and a brief round-up of this afternoon’s other fair-to-middling news.

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