Evans: Anfield trip is a highlight

  • Last Updated: September 22 2012, 13:27 BST

Jonny Evans has no doubts Manchester United's annual Premier League trip to Liverpool remains one of the highlights of England's football calendar.

Jonny Evans: Ready for huge showdown

As a lifelong United fan, growing up in Northern Ireland, Evans never had any doubts who the enemy were.

Manchester City's recent rise, coupled with Liverpool's fall from grace, which has accelerated over the past couple of years, has challenged that notion.

But, in terms of historical significance, both geographical and success, Liverpool remain the team to beat.

"The history of the two clubs makes it one of the biggest games in English football," said Evans.

"The distance thing, the Merseyside-Manchester rivalry and all the history that goes with it means it will be no different on Sunday.

"You can go through tactics and talk about how many points the teams have this season but it all goes out of the window when it comes to a Manchester United-Liverpool game. There is goodness knows how many years of rivalry to take into account as well."

This game is different though.

There can be no other way to assess a game that is being played to the backdrop of Liverpool's first match at home since that damning Hillsborough report was released last week, absolving supporters of the club of all blame for the 1989 stadium disaster and criticising police actions.

Unwanted chants from United supporters at Old Trafford last weekend have sparked fears of trouble at Anfield.

Influential fans groups have already attempted to calm the situation, while United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has twice made pointed comments about his feelings, has also penned a letter that will be distributed to United fans at Anfield before they enter the stadium.

The obvious concern is that with sensitivities so high, visiting fans may offend by singing any number of anti-Liverpool chants that have nothing to do with Hillsborough at all.

All this and a football match to win as well, with Liverpool desperate to record their first Premier League victory under Brendan Rodgers and United just as keen to end a five-match winless sequence at Anfield.

"We haven't had great results away at Liverpool in the last couple of years so it's up to us to put that right," said Evans.

"It's always a big occasion but one every Manchester United player relishes.

"It's something you never forget with the atmosphere and the stick you get as well. It's all part of it.

"We enjoy that side of it and it's going to be a really big game."

It is expected Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez, whose relationship has a troubled past, will do their part for the occasion by shaking hands in the normal pre-match ritual.

And United will play a full part in an emotional pre-game commemoration of the Hillsborough victims.

But for all Ferguson's assertion that the occasion may get to some players, it is hard to imagine the contest being anything other than full-bloodied as the Scot comes up against his seventh Liverpool manager, upon whom so much expectation has been based.

"The pressure for everyone to always be in that top four is immense," said Ferguson.

"Harry (Redknapp) did it a couple of years ago at Tottenham. Last year he didn't make it and he is out of a job.

"His relationship with the chairman probably led to that. But if Tottenham had been in the Champions League I don't think anything would have happened."

And Rodgers has the additional task of trying to achieve success at one of Europe's biggest clubs from a standing start, even if Ferguson does not view it as a replica of the task he was charged with upon his arrival at Old Trafford in 1986.

"It is two different types of club," he said.

"My main drive was to build the foundation of a club where I could rely on youth coming through on a regular basis.

"We were successful at that.

"I don't know what Liverpool's academy is like but it is a big job to start from scratch anywhere."