LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Manchester United host fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday with their hopes of a top-four finish reignited by a run of six straight league wins.
Another victory for Jose Mourinho’s men this weekend could also help dent Liverpool’s own title hopes.
Here is what the fans have to say about their respective clubs.
Paul Ansorge - co-host of United RantCast, @UtdRantcast:
”This game is huge for both teams. I‘m hoping that Liverpool’s midweek defeat in the EFL Cup will dent their confidence but more importantly, I hope it is indicative of something being wrong at Liverpool. But I am not ready to write them off yet, as much as I would like to.
”I‘m telling everyone that asks me that Manchester United will win 2-1 this weekend.
”I think the template for this game will be our win over Spurs a few weeks ago. Spurs and Liverpool play in a similar way -- they both are wonderful to watch, play aggressive, possession-based, pressing football.
”Spurs enjoyed the majority of the ball but we were devastating on the counter-attack. I would expect a similar set-up on Sunday.
”Losing hurts more than winning feels good when it comes to this fixture but I have no time for hatred. It’s not a noble sporting rivalry - it’s brutal at times. Some people love that and think that’s part of what football is for. I think Liverpool and United have a lot more in common than what separates them.
”Sadio Mane (who will be at the African Nations Cup) is so important for Liverpool because he gives the front three incredible balance, so he will be a big loss. That said, they still have plenty of weapons - Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, for example.
”United’s winning run has been built on quality performances. It’s been our best players -- the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan -- all playing really well. That is sustainable and I think there is even more to come.
”I think Mourinho feels a bit embarrassed about being sent off twice because he knows it is not good for his reputation as the manager of Manchester United, so I‘m not expecting drama on the touchline.
”However, if Liverpool were to get a penalty which Mourinho thinks is dodgy, then maybe it could explode.
“I don’t think it’s impossible for United to batter Liverpool on Sunday.”
Peter Phillips - producer and host of The Kop Table Podcast, @The_Kop_Table:
”Here we go again. Fixtures against Manchester United are always intense and you need to be on your “A” game to come away with a result.
”This game has always been so fiercely contested because Liverpool and United are both emotional football clubs with a history that no other teams can match.
”We both see this as our most important league fixture of the season and the atmosphere is always electric, given it’s one of the most watched games in world football.
”Although the two sides have a deep-rooted dislike and hostility towards each other, I believe there is also a level of mutual respect for each other’s history and achievements -- but many fans would be reluctant to admit that.
”My prediction for this game is given through gritted teeth but I think that although it will be a close game, Liverpool will win 2-1.
”Sadio Mane will be a huge loss for Liverpool but with Philippe Coutinho returning to action, this will make up for his absence. Our little magician can produce goals and assists from nothing - just as United found out last year in the Europa League tie.
”United have many players who could cause Liverpool problems this weekend but for me, it’s the players on the wings, like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, that we need to stop. The key to beating United is to stop the crosses into the box.
”Liverpool can be devastating on the counter-attack and that will be something to keep an eye out for on Sunday.
“We are still within touching distance of the league leaders and providing we can hang on to the coat tails of the top-placed team until late April, then we have a chance of bringing home the long-awaited league title.” (Editing by Neville Dalton)