Preview: Man United v Reds

Today's game kicks off at 1pm BST at Old Trafford. Liverpool are 11th and United are 2nd going into this game. United are 8 points ahead of Liverpool.

Players and managers have been talking about today's big match.

Dirk Kuyt: “In Holland everybody watches the Premier League and everybody says that Manchester United against Liverpool is one of the biggest games in England. The rivalry is just like Feyenoord and Ajax in Holland and I just can't wait to play in this match. I've never played at Old Trafford before and I've never even been there, although I have seen it a lot on TV in Holland.

“When you're a Liverpool player, to be up against United in a great stadium is fantastic. It will be great to play there, and it would be great to win there. It would great for me to get the winning goal against Manchester United – that would be the best moment of my career so far. That would be a fantastic thing. It doesn't matter where you are in the league – when you're a Liverpool player you always have to win, that's what is expected of you.
“We have won our first away game this season in midweek and now we want to win our first away game in the Premiership as well to show people what we can do.”

Patrice Evra: “Manchester United against Liverpool is the biggest club game in the world. It is pretty big in France when PSG play Marseille but nothing like this. The atmosphere is really special. People come up to you in the street saying, ‘Come on Pat’ because the result is so important.  Everyone is desperate for us to win and the noise as the game kicks off is incredible.

“This is our second really big game of the season and we have to do better than we did in the last one. It is far too early to say we are going to win certain competitions but at the moment things are looking very positive and we must continue that by beating Liverpool.”

Jose Reina: “We know we’re losing ground. We’re too far behind United. Eight points is too many and that makes Sunday’s outcome all the more important. We have to keep going and fight for everything, but if they win it will be 11 points between us – and that could be too much.”

Rafael Benítez: “The players know how important this game is. I think it could be a starting point for us to change things, especially with our record away from home. We want to go to Old Trafford to show people that we can beat them.

“Everything is not perfect but we are improving and it is important that we continue in that way against United. I do not like to think in terms of ‘if we lose we can’t win the title’. I prefer to think of what will happen if we do win –  if we can win there we can change the way we think about the future. We are not thinking of losing, only that we have confidence that we can win. I don't like to talk about losing, I prefer to talk about this being a good opportunity for us to change things.

“This league is always a long race, and the most important thing for me is to see the players focused right to the end. To the end of each game and to the end of the season. As for the title race, I believe at the end of the season we will see maybe three or four clubs closer together than last season. I do not believe it will be like that again with one club so far ahead.

“We know just how difficult it is to beat the top sides, but we must also remember that we will play all of them at home in the second half of the season. We need to remember that we will still have our chance.

“If you're talking about one game, then anything can happen. If you're talking about the league, we know we are not playing to our normal level but I'm sure we will improve and I have confidence that we will be there at the end of the season.

“If you want to win titles, you must beat the top sides. We are very aware of how big this game is for our fans and it is one of the games we know we have to be able to win to compete at the top level.”

Alex Ferguson, stoking the fires that the clubs have tried to dampen down: “Over the last couple of years there has been some incidents we don't wish to see and hopefully we can put a lid on that part of it. Both sets of supporters should realise they are supporting two great clubs and imagine what it would be like if there wasn't a United-Liverpool game, or it was played with no-one being able to attend it. I just hope there is no retribution from United fans.

“I don't anticipate it or expect it because on the pitch it has never been a problem. I think both sets of players have been a credit to their clubs. That's why I was disappointed Gary Neville was fined by the FA. All he did was show his emotions. That's fine, I have no problem with that, it's an emotional game and he was celebrating a victory. I have seen Liverpool players do it too.

“In fact, over the years I don't think there has ever been a problem between the two sets of players. Yes, there have been some feisty games but I can't remember one when there was any hostility and real bitterness which left you thinking the players should be behaving better. Both sets of players have been a credit to their clubs in terms of their behaviour on the pitch.

“This is not just an important fixture, it is a platform for everyone in the country to see. We just have to keep a lid on things because we don't want the situation to get out of hand.”

Team news:  Manchester United had captain and anti-scouser Gary Neville missing in the midweek Champions League match, along with Rio Ferdinand, both officially due to injury worries. Liverpool also had their captain, Steven Gerrard, missing with injury. All three players look set to play today.

Dirk Kuyt and Momo Sissoko both came off the bench midweek after being out prior to that with ankle injuries, and are both said to be fit to play today from the start. It may still be too soon for Daniel Agger (broken hand) and Robbie Fowler (back). There is also a whisper that Craig Bellamy is unavailable today due to injury.

United still have Mikael Silvestre and Park Ji-Sung missing.

Milestones: If picked, Steven Gerrard will make his 350th appearance for the Reds and John Arne Riise his 150th start. Again if picked, Rooney will make his 100th appearance for United, Wes Brown his 200th and Paul Scholes his 500th.

If Liverpool won it would be their 50th league win over United.

United's Kieran Richardson (22) and Nemanja Vidic (25) are celebrating their birthdays today.


All League games: Man United 54 wins, Liverpool 49, Draws 43

All League games at Old Trafford: Man United 34 wins, Liverpool 14, Draws 25

Referee: Graham Poll, from Tring. Refereed the Goodison derby in September which Liverpool lost 3-0. Booked four players that day, including Sissoko, Riise and Hyypia. Officiated over the Manchester United defeat to Arsenal the following week, booking Scholes and Brown plus two Arsenal players. He's dished out 31 red cards in his seven games this season, and is yet to send anyone off. Didn't have a good summer.