LONDON: Manchester United and Liverpool will remind themselves what top billing in the Premier League feels like when they lock horns for the 191st time at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Chelsea and Manchester City seem destined to duke it out for this season’s title, but contests between United and Liverpool often serve to show why it is their rivalry that remains the most enduring in English football.
United’s run of five consecutive wins has seen them climb to third place in the table, eight points behind league leaders Chelsea and five points below defending champions City.
But although Liverpool are seven points back in ninth place, United manager Louis van Gaal is aware that his side’s recent momentum could collapse swiftly if they do not approach the game correctly.
“I dream for Manchester City’s place or Chelsea’s place,” said Van Gaal. “Now we have to live match for match and that is the most important thing. We have to beat Liverpool, which is more important than thinking about City or Chelsea.”
Liverpool completed a home-and-away double on their last visit to Old Trafford in March, sweeping to a one-sided 3-0 win in which Steven Gerrard scored two penalties and saw a third come back off the post. But it is United who are on the up now, with Monday’s slipshod 2-1 win at Southampton leaving them six points and six places better off than at this stage last season.
Liverpool are nine points and seven places worse off than they were this time last year, and go into the game having been eliminated from the Champions League following a 1-1 draw against Swiss champions Basel at a mournful Anfield.
“All you can do is influence what is happening inside your club and on the training ground and work even harder to turn it around,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
“If we are able to achieve that, then of course the attitude changes. The only way you can do that is by winning games and performing well and that is our attitude, to move forward for the rest of the season.”
Tottenham’s Davies relishes Swansea reunion
Left-back Ben Davies admits he will have to keep his emotions in check when he makes his first return to Swansea as Tottenham visit the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
Davies joined Spurs during the close season for a fee of around £10 million and is finally establishing himself in the side after a slow start to his career at White Hart Lane.
“I’d been at Swansea all my life before moving to Spurs so it’s the first time I’ve been in this situation but it’s something I’m excited about,” said Davies. “I’ve not over-thought about it, but I am excited. I know a lot of people there and it will be a bit surreal. It’s a big day.”