Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under no illusion that overcoming Liverpool when the two sides meet on Sunday will be a huge ask.
Of the two sides, it’s United who come into the game in better form. Solskjaer’s men sit top of the Premier League table, three points clear of their opponents, whose only win in their last four games came against a depleted Aston Villa side in the FA Cup.
Despite that, Solskjaer insisted in his pre-match press conference that it’s defending champions Liverpool who should be viewed as favourites, but United are relishing the chance to get one over on their rivals.
“Well, if you look at the last few seasons I think it would be an upset and it would be a shock,” he said (via the club’s official website). “I think our position at the moment is the product of all the hard work that we have done on the training ground and what the players are putting down every single day.
“We probably deserve to be where we are at, at the moment. But I don’t think many would have thought anything but a…or another word for it other than an upset, if it was six weeks ago that we beat Liverpool at Anfield. We’re looking forward to the game and hopefully we can cause that upset.”
When United last travelled to Anfield almost one year ago to the day, they fell to a 2-0 defeat which left them 30 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s runaway champions, and Solskjaer was clearly delighted to have managed to close that gap between the two sides.
“We’re a much better side now than a year ago,” he added. “Then again, we lost that game to a [Virgil] van Dijk header from a corner and a counter-attack in the last kick of the game on our corner. So we were not a million miles away then either.
“I think that’s a misperception if people say we were a million miles away. We did have some moments in that game ourselves. The league position, that we are competitive, that we are up there with six, seven, eight teams, of course it’s a tighter season this year. I think the last few years, there have been two teams running away with it already by the end of October. Now, at least, we’re in it at halfway.
“It’s a great spirit [at the club this season]. I think we’ve gained some valuable players with some valuable experience for some of the players, of course. Now, a few of the signings that we’ve made, Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], Dan [James], Harry [Maguire], the ones that I signed as well, they’ve been here a bit longer. They know more about the standards, the expectations, the pressures of being at United.
“I think we’ve become stronger mentally, physically and more robust in both parts. And, of course, you know Bruno [Fernandes], Edinson [Cavani], Odion [Ighalo], Alex [Telles], Donny [van de Beek] coming in from the outside. They are good human beings and good professionals which helps the group.”