Red Devils ea­ger to twist knife into strug­gling Liver­pool

NT News - - SPORT -

JOSE Mour­inho re­turns to An­field tonight with his Manch­ester United team in far finer fet­tle than on their last trip to face Liver­pool 12 months ago.

United had their backs to the wall in Oc­to­ber 2016, suc­ces­sive de­feats against Manch­ester City and Wat­ford hav­ing snuffed out their earl­y­sea­son op­ti­mism, and were con­tent to chisel out a 0-0 draw.

A year on they are soar­ing, six wins and a draw in their open­ing seven games putting them level on points with lead­ers Manch­ester City. Hav­ing tar­geted top spot prior to last sea­son’s equiv­a­lent fix­ture, Liver­pool are now the team on the back foot.

An in­jury to Sa­dio Mane has robbed man­ager Jur­gen Klopp of a vi­tal at­tack­ing player and both Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino could be low on gas af­ter play­ing for Brazil in mid­week.

Klopp can nev­er­the­less point to an ex­cel­lent record in head-to-head matches against other top-six sides, hav­ing suf­fered only two de­feats in 20 such con­tests since his ar­rival in Oc­to­ber 2015.

The trip to Mersey­side rep­re­sents United’s first ma­jor test of the cam­paign.

Mind­ful of the ex­pec­ta­tions his side’s re­cent per­for­mances have gen­er­ated, Mour­inho has at­tempted to play down the sig­nif­i­cance of the match. “It’s three points,” he said. “When you are in a big club, when you are a big player, when you are a big man­ager, every game is im­por­tant.”

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