As if the spectre of two of the league’s bitterest rivals meeting isn’t enough, with the news of the Hillsborough cover-up still settling, and both managers calling for their supporters to be calm, there’s the small sideshow of Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez possibly (or possibly not) shaking hands before the Premier League clash.
The Daily Mail report that in order to help the match at Anfield pass off without incident, Suarez will be ordered by Liverpool to offer his hand to Evra before the match – and (perhaps crucially) they are confident he will comply.
Of course, Suarez infamously declined to do so last season after receiving an eight-game ban for racially abusing the United left-back, an event which led to apologies from Liverpool officials, then-manager Kenny Dalglish and Suarez himself.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre and Manchester United chief executive David Gill are to meet in the week to make plans to ensure the match is played in the right spirit.
Liverpool may opt for a minute’s applause in tribute to the Hillsborough victims, in order to drown out any possible negative reaction from the crowd, while United may lay a wreath in memory to the 96.
Still, every now and then it’s nice when the back pages take a break from the bread and butter of handshakes to give football news a few column inches – and there’s good news for Arsenal and England fans in the Daily Mirror.
Jack Wilshere, who has been sidelined since the end of the 2010-11 season, is set to return to training this week.
His manager Arsene Wenger is in a position not to rush him back to action, but simply seeing him in training, when he joins up with the first-team after Arsenal’s midweek clash in the Champions League should provide a boost for the Gunners.
Good news for Manchester City too - they’re on the brink of convincing David Silva to extend his contract at the Etihad for another five years.
Silva, 26, was a key part of the club’s league triumph last season – but his services will not come cheap – it is expected that he will command wages of £200,000 a week, with incentives based on domestic and European success that could push that figure up to more like £250,000 a week.
Roberto Mancini will probably want to steer clear of this morning’s Guardian, however, in which Peter Crouch admits handling the ball as he scored Stoke’s goal against City at the weekend.
Elsewhere the race to land the Coventry City job appears to be led by Paul Ince (The Sun), and David Moyes is hopeful of landing free agent Artur Boruc to boost his goalkeeping options at Everton (Daily Mail).
- Patrice Evra