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City v Arsenal or United v Liverpool - Which is the biggest match?
This weekend sees one of Sky Sports' classic Super Sundays as Manchester United travel to Anfield and Arsenal head up to the North West to take on reigning champions Manchester City.
The former fixture has always been one of the English season's classic matches whilst the latter would have normally not have raised much interest outside of North London or the City of Manchester. In fact the match between arguably English football's biggest rivals has featured in every season of the Premier League, whilst City have only hosted Arsenal in 15 of the League's 20 seasons. Even as recently as three years ago it would have been laughable to even mention the two fixtures in the same breath, let alone consider which is the bigger fixture. But how things have changed!
City's meteoric rise from the ashes of the old Third Division to becoming Premier League Champions is now legend - even if it is a legend built on the oil of Abu Dhabi rather than forged from the mills of Manchester, whilst Liverpool's slow decline from perennial Champions to Premier League also-rans has been equally spectacular. The City of Manchester is home to stars of world football like Yava Toure, Sergio Aguerro and David Silva, whilst Liverpool have become increasingly reliant on home grown talent such as Rahim Stirling and Jonjo Shelvey. Their respective oppositions on Sunday have also experienced differing fortunes over the last few years. Arsenal have flattered to deceive and their seven year trophy drought has seen player after player jump ship culminating in Robin van Persie's transfer to Old Trafford this summer. United meanwhile continue onwards collecting trophies at home and abroad with consummate ease. Wayne Rooney may well be missing this Sunday, but once he is fully fit he will be making sure their is no repeat of last season's very rare empty trophy cabinet.
The added emotion of Hillsborough tributes will make Sunday's match at Anfield a much more emotionally charged affair, however when it comes to May and the trophy is handed out, I for one think that the result at the Etihad would have had an impact on the destination of the title whereas the previously heralded game of any season will be relegated to a mere footnote on the record of the 2012/13 Premier League season.