The potential for controversy in any Man United v Liverpool match is always huge, but it will be even bigger this weekend after Howard Webb was appointed as the man in the middle.
Webb is still regarded as one of the leading referees in the Premier League, but he hasn’t half courted controversy in the past (not giving a red card to Nigel de Jong in the 2010 World Cup Final, anyone?) and is often accused by opposition fans as having a soft spot for the Red Devils.
Webb hasn’t taken charge of the meeting between two of English football’s rivals since an FA Cup encounter in January 2011, a game which, typically for Man United v Liverpool games, didn’t pass without incident.
Webb awarded a controversial penalty for a foul on Dimitar Berbatov on Daniel Agger early on in that game and later sent off Steven Gerrard for a tackle on Michael Carrick and both decisions didn’t go down well in the eyes of Liverpool fans or indeed, those with a bigger role to play.
Then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish labelled the penalty decision a ‘joke’, while Ryan Babel infamously tweeted a mocked up picture of Webb in a Man United jersey (see below) along with the line: "And they call him one of the best referees? That's a joke. SMH (Shaking My Head)."
Webb will be hoping that the maxim about referees having a good game when you don’t notice them will apply at Old Trafford this weekend, but if it’s anything like the last time he refereed a game between the teams (see video here), we can already envisage his name trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons come Sunday afternoon.