The Case For The Defence: Why Manchester United Can Avoid Embarrassment Against Liverpool

Ducking stools and the pillory are now mercifully consigned to crime and punishment museums, but the thirst for public humiliation and retribution they once sated continues in more trivial forms.

Like watching Manchester United against Liverpool on Sunday, for instance. Let there be no doubt that, while fans of both clubs are absorbed in another instalment of a historic rivalry, a majority of neutrals will be waiting for Liverpool to visit fresh hell upon Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's limp team.

There is already a 15-point ocean between the clubs after eight games of the Premier League season and whether advanced metrics or outrage inducing combined XIs are your thing, the quality gap is self-evident - on the pitch, in the dugout and in the boardroom.

Bookmakers make Liverpool a shorter price to win at Old Trafford than Arsenal to win a Bramall Lane. Constructing a case for United is a difficult task.

Nevertheless, there might be just enough logic and historic precedent to assure United fans that Sunday will not be the unmitigated disaster many are predicting.