Man Utd V Liverpool at Old Trafford : Match Preview

11 February 2012 10:31
Ferguson dignified ahead of reunion

Sir Alex Ferguson is determined Manchester United will retain their dignity as Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez come face to face for the first time since the racism row exploded between the pair.

Suarez has now returned to action after serving an eight-match ban for the comments he made to Evra at Anfield in October.

However, Liverpool's actions over the past few months have not been well received. As recently as Monday, Kenny Dalglish insisted Suarez's lengthy punishment was unjust, a surprising claim given the Reds chief had avoided any inflammatory statements prior to the recent FA Cup tie between the two clubs.

Ferguson is determined not to rise to the bait.

"They've said plenty, haven't they?" said Ferguson. "We've kept our dignity throughout. We've kept our counsel. That is the right thing to do in these situations.

"We'll keep it that way, too and just concentrate on the game."

The clash represents the third of four demanding matches in a six-game period Ferguson always felt would hold the key to United's title challenge.

So far, a win at Arsenal and a draw at Chelsea represents a decent return. However, three points are a must in what Ferguson still regards as the biggest game of the season.

"It's always going to be a big game," he said. "That's not changed since I've been down here and it's just the same. "We're chasing the league and they're chasing a Champions League place.

It's important for both clubs. "Our form's as good as it's ever been. We're playing really good football and the concentration levels are good."

Tom Cleverley is expected to play some part having recovered from an ankle injury while Chris Smalling (knock) is also set to return.

But Phil Jones (ankle) is still missing. Liverpool's recent success over United will give the players encouragement, according to Dalglish. But the Scot has warned they will have to earn victory in exactly the same manner as they did in the 2-1 win at Anfield a fortnight ago.

Dalglish's first match on his return to the club in January 2011 to replace Roy Hodgson was a 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford, in which captain Steven Gerrard was sent off.

The Reds gained revenge with a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win at Anfield last March and had the better of a 1-1 home draw in October before their cup victory last month.

"It is a huge game. Everyone looks forward to it on both sides and it is important for both clubs to get something from the game," said the Scot.

"For us we know we are capable of getting something as we've done it, we have beaten them twice and drawn once at Anfield so that gives us a bit of encouragement.

"But anything we want from the game we will have to earn it on the day and we will work as hard as we have done to get the previous results and see if we can get success.

"We know what we have had to do in the past. We have the utmost respect for what they have achieved and what they have got and we will do our best to repeat the performances we have put on against them.

"There is a lot you can take into it but on Saturday you only get out of it what you put into it. "It is a fantastic place to go and play but it is even more enjoyable when you walk away with a positive result."

Dalglish, who earlier in the week insisted it was time for a line to be drawn under the Suarez affair, refused to talk about the reception the 25-year-old is expected to receive at Old Trafford.

The Scot insists he is concentrating solely on the football side of things and, based on United's last result, knows his side cannot afford any suggestion of complacency to creep in.

"We know they're an excellent side who came back from 3-0 at Chelsea last week," he added.

"That will give them a lift even though they only got a point, so we know what we're up against.

"They might have an awful lot of the ball but we plan to have a bit of the ball ourselves. "It is not how much you have percentage-wise in terms of possession, it is what you do with it.

"You have to accept sometimes possession does not always determine the result of the game, it is what you do with it that counts.

"I don't know what happened in the cup tie in terms of whether we had less possession than them but I know we got one goal more than them."

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Source: PA