Respect will be order of the day at Anfield
Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday.
LONDON - A simple handshake between two old foes on an emotionally-charged afternoon at Anfield can close a chapter and help set a tone of mutual respect when Liverpool host Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.
The fixture is Liverpool's first at home since a report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster cleared their fans of any blame for the crush that left 96 of their number dead at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
It also promises another face-to-face meeting between United defender Patrice Evra and Liverpool's Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who was banned for eight matches last year for racially abusing the Frenchman.
Assuming they play, the two men will be expected to shake hands before kick-off (1230) as is the custom.
Both clubs, two of the fiercest rivals in English football, want the match to be a moment to pay tribute to the tireless campaigners for truth and justice and also for players and fans to turn over a new leaf.
An anti-Liverpool chant of 'It's never your fault, always the victims' heard from some quarters at Old Trafford last weekend in United's 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic referred more to the Suarez-Evra incident but has caused concern ahead of the trip to Anfield.
The two captains, likely to be Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic, will release 96 balloons before kick-off and there will also be mosaics on three sides of the ground spelling out '96', 'Justice' and 'The Truth'.
"We are totally supportive of Liverpool in this situation," United manager Alex Ferguson said this week. "It's going to be a very emotional day on Sunday and we will support them in every way that we can."
That support will not extend to the action on the field, with former European giants Liverpool also looking to wipe the slate clean after enduring their worst start to a league season in 101 years.
Liverpool are 17th overall, with United second and possibly welcoming back England striker Wayne Rooney from injury at Sunday's game, but past form offers plenty of hope for the Anfield faithful.
United have not won at Anfield in four league visits since a 1-0 victory in December 2007 and were also knocked out of the FA Cup there in January of last season.
With champions Manchester City hosting Arsenal later on Sunday (1500), the stage is set for Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea to extend their lead to four points after their Saturday match at home to Stoke City (1400).
Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield and are building up momentum with a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton followed by a 2-1 Champions League win at French side Montpellier on Tuesday.
City, smarting from their 3-2 Champions League loss at real Madrid, will be a tough test but the Gunners have conceded just two goals in five games so far.
"I think if we play the same as we did against Liverpool and Southampton then we have a chance at Man City to get the three points," German winger Lukas Podolski told the club website (www.arsenal.com).
"It's very important (to keep playing well). We have had some strong matches, but Man City played in Madrid and now against us - it's a tough week," added the player who has scored three goals in three games.