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Friday, December 14, 2007

Liverpool are contenders

Michael Carrick reckons Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool will be the biggest battle for years between the old enemies. The Red Devils star reckons the fact Liverpool are now credible title-challengers has raised the intensity surrounding Sunday’s Anfield battle. Midfielder Carrick, 26, said: “As players, Liverpool is always a special game for us — especially at Anfield. The difference this year is that Liverpool are going for the title too, which makes it even bigger. There’s no doubt you can feel the intensity surrounding this fixture. You can feel it around the town."
Neil Custis, The Sun

A match like no other

Sir Alex Ferguson cannot wait to sample Sunday's clash with Liverpool, insisting that fixtures between the pair are unrivalled in English football.

Liverpool's improvement this season looks set to make them genuine contenders for the Barclays Premier League title, adding even more of an edge to an invariably spicy fixture.

"This is a game separate from everything, it has different tendancies to any other game," said Sir Alex. "I think it's fair to say we look upon each other as our main rivals in English football, so it's separate from everything."

Despite slipping to a shock defeat at Reading last weekend, Liverpool's midweek win over Marseille takes them into Sunday's fixture on a high, although Sir Alex hinted that he would not have relished the fixture if the Merseysiders had crashed out of Europe.

"There are two different ways of looking at it," he said. "You could have Liverpool as a wounded animal going into the game, or as they are. Sometimes a wounded animal is more dangerous."

United go into the match six points ahead of their local rivals, but having played a game more. Sir Alex admits Liverpool are well in the title picture alongside Arsenal and

A match like no other

Chelsea, who also lock horns on Sunday.

"Liverpool have got a game in hand, haven't they," he said. "Three points is nothing in this league, it's a competitive league now. Arsenal were six points ahead of us two weeks ago, now it's one.

"With Chelsea going to Arsenal as well, if it was March or April then it would without doubt be a significant weekend, but it's halfway through the season.

"Two draws will be the favourite scorelines, they're two difficult games to call. Certainly I'm looking at Arsenal and Chelsea and hoping it's a draw. Whenever your rivals play each other, you hope they'll drop points."


Hargreaves fit for Anfield test

Owen Hargreaves is fit and ready to face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday after overcoming a slight calf strain.

The 26-year-old midfielder was withdrawn from last weekend's 4-1 win over Derby County at Old Trafford after pulling up in the warm-up.

He didn't travel to Italy in midweek for the 1-1 draw with AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, but he will be available for the crunch clash with Rafael Benitez's men.

Hargreaves' energy, defensive qualities and passing ability could be crucial on Sunday, and one of his main tasks could be to stifle Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Sir Alex Ferguson will also have John O'Shea fit for the match after injuring his groin against Roma in midweek.

"Everyone is fit," said Sir Alex. "John O'Shea is ok after a couple of days' rest." Read more...