Klopp expects ‘fight’ in ‘special’ game

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Manchester United v Liverpool: Mourinho & Klopp preview the game

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his team are preparing for a “fight” in Sunday’s “special” Premier League game at rivals Manchester United.

The Reds go to Old Trafford fourth in the table and without a win in three matches, while Jose Mourinho’s sixth-placed United side are unbeaten in 15.

Asked about the game’s significance, Klopp said: “I hear it when I talk to different people.

“It’s very, very big – but my players know their responsibilities.”

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Liverpool are eight points behind leaders Chelsea after Saturday’s fixtures and their most recent match was a 1-0 defeat by Southampton in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg, which Klopp said they should have lost by more.

“Because of our last game it is like, ‘oh my God, and now it’s Manchester United’ – but we will be competitive,” added the 49-year-old German.

“There is a moment when you realise this is really different, but we will realise too that we are Liverpool, so let’s show this.

“Everyone who wants to see a real fight for a result, yeah, watch it. It is a special game.”

In-form United are five points behind Liverpool and last time out beat Hull 2-0 – their ninth victory in a row – in the other EFL Cup semi-final first leg.

“Nobody is nervous, everybody wants to play,” said Mourinho.

“I am sure Jurgen is the same and Liverpool’s players are the same, so let’s make a big match. It is three points, plus the emotional side of it.”

The 53-year-old Portuguese recently asked United fans to be more vocal at Old Trafford, and he repeated the sentiment when explaining his take on one of British football’s most iconic fixtures.

“The fans understand the feeling better than I do – but I’ve been here for a few months and I understand the dimension of this rivalry,” he said.

“Now it is just a question of them trying to give us extra in a match that for them means a little bit more. They have to make us feel that feeling.”

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Analysis

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty

Manchester United and Liverpool will be looking to their game-changing players to shape the latest episode of this fierce rivalry.

United manager Mourinho will want Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to demonstrate once more the partnership – helped by the stabilising midfield influence of Michael Carrick – that they have shown so far this season while Liverpool counterpart Klopp will hope fit-again Phillipe Coutinho can give side his that extra dimension.

Two players who will also have a significant influence on who comes out on top will be United’s Carrick and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who Klopp will hope is available to start after a heel injury.

Liverpool look more vulnerable without Henderson, who has grown into a mature and outstanding midfield anchor this season.

The likes of Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Coutinho will splash colours on the canvas – but the importance of more understated players like Carrick and Henderson cannot be underestimated on Sunday.

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Lawro’s prediction

BBC football expert and Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson

Manchester United got a 0-0 draw at Anfield in October in a game that was basically a Jose Mourinho masterpiece. His gameplan was to restrict Liverpool to relatively few chances – and it worked.

United will be far more ambitious in attack at Old Trafford, however, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has some big decisions to make over the fitness of some of his players.

This is a massive game for both teams and I think it will end up with a point apiece.

Prediction: 1-1

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