It has been a while since Manchester United made the trip to Liverpool with a justifiable sense of superiority but they head to Anfield on Sunday for their Premier League clash crowing.
United’s struggles in recent seasons have coincided with Liverpool’s rise under Juergen Klopp and their fans have had to stomach watching the Merseysiders win the Champions League, Premier League, both domestic cups and more.
Apart from winning the FA Cup and League Cup last season, Liverpool pushed Manchester City all the way in another titanic title race and finished a massive 34 points above United. But what a difference a year makes.
While Liverpool appear to be on the wane, Dutchman Erik Ten Hag has inspired a renaissance at Old Trafford.
United claimed their first silverware since 2017 last Sunday by beating Newcastle United in the League Cup final, reached the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek, are in the Europa League last 16 and on the fringe of the title race.
United have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League games and since the resumption of the competition following the World Cup no side has more points (23).
Claiming a first Premier League title in 10 years remains a long shot as they are 11 points behind leaders Arsenal and six behind Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand on both. But a win at Anfield would fuel belief that should City and Arsenal falter, United are ready to pounce.
It is a big if, but wherever United finish this season and whoever ends up owning them, there is the sense that on the pitch the club is on an upward trajectory.
United have not beaten Liverpool in their last six league visits to Anfield and will come up against a side desperate for victory to boost their hopes of a top-four finish.
Liverpool’s 2-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday lifted them into sixth place, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand.
After a tough season, Klopp said following that win that the old feelings of playing at Anfield were beginning to return.
“I thought Anfield proved a point tonight again, it was super, super-enjoyable. We were all together — I loved that,” the German said. “That’s what we need again on Sunday, but of course it will be difficult.”
The weekend begins with champions Manchester City at home to fifth-placed Newcastle who will be seeking a tonic after losing the League Cup final last weekend.
Anything other than victory for City will leave Arsenal with a glorious chance to stretch their five-point lead when they host second-bottom side Bournemouth later on Saturday.
Tottenham have crept above Newcastle with four wins from their last five league games although they were knocked out of the FA Cup by second-tier Sheffield United on Wednesday.
They travel to Wolves on Saturday.
Flagging Chelsea will attempt to end a dismal run of two wins in their last 15 league games and relieve some of the pressure on manager Graham Potter as they host Leeds United.
Leeds are one point above the relegation zone in a survival battle involving at least nine clubs.
Bottom club Southampton host Leicester City hoping to avoid a sixth straight home league defeat, Everton, who are 18th, travel to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest on Sunday. — Reuters