Manchester United look a better side than the one that lost 5-0 to Liverpool in the autumn but will need more than just better to have a chance.
Earlier in the season, Liverpool travelled to face Manchester United at Old Trafford and handed their historic rivals a historic defeat as the Reds ran out 5-0 victors. A few weeks later, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked.
His replacement, Ralf Rangnick, says that that heavy and embarrassing defeat by Liverpool will fuel his players in tonight’s rematch, as will their need to earn maximum points as United push to finish in the top four this season.
“We know the importance of the Liverpool game,” Rangnick said ahead of kickoff. “Not only for us to stay in the race for number four, but also for the fans knowing that the team lost the first fixture this season 5-0 at Old Trafford.
“We are fully aware about the importance. They [will] play as they always play. A lot of intensity with a lot of players involved when they create the chances with very aggressive counter-pressing and we will be prepared for that.
“But in the end the question is how do we bring that onto the pitch, that’s what it’s all about. We need the best possible performance that we can bring and we need to have the best possible balance defensively and offensively.”
United’s recent results have been a mixed bag. They beat Norwich last weekend but it was a nervy on. They lost to Everton. Drew Leicester. Got knocked out of Europe by Atletico Madrid. Beat Tottenham but lost to Man City.
They are a better side, perhaps, than the one that lost 5-0 to Liverpool in the autumn, but they are hardly in a scintillating run of form. And Liverpool remain the most daunting of opponents, in both England and all of Europe.