Man United vs Liverpool is a game that stirs emotions.
But English football’s equivalent of El Clasico was dampened by a spat of momentum-killing injuries.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to react midway through the first half as two of his midfielders went down with muscle injuries.
First the combative Ander Herrera made way for Andreas Pereira — the Spaniard reluctantly departing the type of big game he has often relished in the past.
Then Juan Mata, who has enjoyed games against Liverpool previously, was replaced by Jesse Lingard.
The England international has only just returned from injury himself and Solskjaer – a super sub himself in his playing days – probably wouldn’t have wanted to give him more than 25 minutes.
The Norwegian’s worst fears were realised when Lingard limped off just 15 minutes after coming on — the 26-year-old clearly hadn’t recovered sufficiently from the injury he sustained against PSG.
Scott McTominay started in midfield in place of the injured Nemanja Matic, a decision which raises further questions about Fred’s role in the squad.
You get the sense Solskjaer would play Michael Carrick over the £52million Brazilian.
Marcus Rashford spent much of the first half in considerable discomfort.
United’s No10 got a knock from England team-mate Jordan Henderson and looked as if he was going to come off before a flurry of injuries exhausted the home side’s substitute allocation.
Liverpool weren’t immune from the curse either.
Roberto Firmino rolled his ankle playing a pass to Mohamed Salah and was replaced by Daniel Sturridge just after the half hour mark.
Jurgen Klopp clearly has a taste for comedy, introducing the injury-prone forward to a cursed game.
Andy Robertson was nearly crushed under Romelu Lukaku at the end of the first half but the Scotland captain recovered after some treatment.
With no more substitutions available to United, Rashford will have to play through the pain in the second half or leave his team-mates one short against their fierce historic rivals.
Needless to say, the injuries disrupted the game’s flow.
It’s not often you get more substitutions than shots on target in the first half of a Premier League game.
It couldn’t be the garlic, could it?