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Man Utd V Liverpool at Old Trafford : Match Preview

Updated 15 Mar 2014 14:31:00

Man Utd V Liverpool at Old Trafford : Match Preview

Man Utd V Liverpool - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Rodgers focused for United clash

Brendan Rodgers is keen to focus on the future and avoid comparisons with the teams of Liverpool's past as they head to Manchester United looking to maintain a title challenge.


The Reds' last won at Old Trafford in 2009, which was the last time they genuinely contended for the Premier League but ultimately finished four points behind their arch-rivals.


Their title drought is into its 24th year now and while Rodgers insists his side remain outsiders he does not want to start drawing comparisons with other teams who have either won, or come close, to lifting the championship.


"The performance back in 2009 (a 4-1 victory) was a terrific one, but it's a different group of players, different mentality and different managers," he said.


"We will go into the game with the belief we can win - and that will be no different. Nothing will move us from that. We'll be ready for it."


A win on Sunday would take Liverpool beyond their points total for the whole of last season (61) but having got within touching distance of a shot at the title, that will not be sufficient.


They have registered just 15 league wins at Old Trafford in 80 visits over 118 years and the last time they finished above United in the table was in 2001-02.


But if they are to keep in touch with Chelsea, who began the weekend seven points ahead having played one match more, they must return with three points.


"It'll be another marker for us. We've had a number of those statistics this year," said Rodgers.


"We hadn't won away at Tottenham for quite a while and we performed there.


"We hadn't won at Southampton, which is a real tough away game, for 11 years and we won there - we'll take the very same approach going into this game.


"We know it's going to be a difficult game because of the level of opponent but we'll go in with the same aggression and confidence that we can cause problems for any opponent.


"At the minute we have great confidence and over the course of the season the biggest thing we have is belief."


Where Liverpool have the advantage over United, who are 11 points behind, is in their attacking options.


Rodgers can call on the top-flight's two best strikers on current form in Luis Suarez (24 league goals) and Daniel Sturridge (21) while behind them the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho are becoming increasingly important cogs in the set up.


Sturridge is on a run of 12 goals in as many matches for club and country and Rodgers believes the 24-year-old is starting to mature into the striker he showed the potential of being at former clubs Manchester City and Chelsea.


"He's humble, but he's also full of belief and confidence, which the best players have," he said.


"He's a very mature young guy and he's come into this club, scored the goals that he has as well as shown world-class traits.


"He has been at two very good clubs before and it hadn't quite worked out for him but when you come to Liverpool there are not many bigger.


"Had it not worked out (at Anfield) it probably would've been difficult for him.


"I told him when he came in that our aim over the next three years was to help him develop into a world-class player.


"He's got all the abilities and he must just continue showing them on the field.


"He just needed a platform to develop and he's made great strides since he's been here," the manager added.


"At 24, he still has a lot more development and he's focused on being the best he can be."


Suarez will debut a revolutionary pair of knitted boots at Old Trafford but Rodgers has no concerns about the change of equipment.


"If he scores goals in them it doesn't matter. As long as they get the job done," he added.


Wayne Rooney admits Manchester United's top priority when they face Liverpool on Sunday will be to stop Suarez - a player he regards as one of the very best on the planet.


United have enjoyed supremacy over their old foes over the last two decades, but the tables have turned this season, with United 11 points behind the Merseysiders, who are second in the Barclays Premier League.


A quick glance at the goals scored column shows why Rodgers has enjoyed a far more successful season than David Moyes.


Liverpool have scored 73 goals this term compared to United's total of 46.


Liverpool striker Suarez, who has developed a lethal partnership with Sturridge, has scored 24 goals this season, and Rooney has been impressed with the Uruguayan's form.


"Suarez, for me, is up there with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players in the world," the United striker told MUTV.


"He has been that good and the two of them together have been in great form this season. We will have to do everything we can to stop them on Sunday.


"I think they are both fantastic players and obviously it is good to see Sturridge doing well because he has never really had a chance at his previous clubs.


"Brendan Rodgers has given him a chance and he has taken it with both hands. That is good for England as well."


Robin van Persie fired United to the title by scoring 26 goals last season, but he and Rooney have only managed 11 each this term.


Injuries have curbed the playing time for both players, but now they are fit - and have also committed their respective futures to the club - Rooney hopes the goals will start coming again for the duo.


"We can do better and if we are not at the top of the league then that will get looked at and we understand that," Rooney said.


"We can score more goals and we know we can. We are working hard to do that, we have to keep going and hopefully that will come."


Whether it was part of a move to relieve pressure on his players or not, Moyes was moved to suggest that United are underdogs for Sunday's fixture - one he regards as the biggest in the country.


The Scot remains convinced that he is leading United back on the path to success in the long term, though.


"We are a work in progress," the United boss said. "We are looking to make changes in time.


"We will regroup and get ourselves back together and hopefully it won't be too long.


"My biggest goal is not affecting Liverpool's title challenge, my biggest goal is to get Manchester United winning the title. That's my goal and will be my goal every year I'm in the job."


Moyes thinks Rodgers has been aided by the fact that Liverpool have not been in Europe this season.


The Scot added: "Liverpool and Brendan might have benefited from being out of Europe.


"They've grown in confidence and securing Suarez on a new contract has been a big boost for the club."



PA

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