United take momentum into Liverpool test
The late winner at Crystal Palace had multiple benefits: it inspired a moment of pure joy, secured three Premier League points and, perhaps most importantly, enhanced the momentum behind Jose Mourinho’s United before Saturday’s crunch match against old rivals Liverpool.
That blockbuster game at Old Trafford could determine who finishes second in the table and, as the manager has repeatedly stated, that remains the ambition with the title seemingly out of reach.
Having twice come from behind against Chelsea and Palace over the last fortnight, there is no doubt that United head into the fixture with increased confidence, belief and a little bit of swagger. The images that followed Nemanja Matic’s half-volley at Selhurst Park were almost cinematic, and you should not underestimate how galvanising that result could be for both the squad and fans.
The Reds must now harness the feel-good factor and wield it throughout Saturday’s pivotal match with Liverpool, which is coincidentally the 200th competitive fixture between the two clubs.
Chris Smalling was accurate when he stated the players will train this week with smiles on their faces and our Serbian match-winner, Matic, shrewdly highlighted the increased momentum that is now behind the Reds. Yet Nemanja was also wise enough to acknowledge the players must also improve their performance levels when Jurgen Klopp’s third-placed side visit the Theatre of Dreams.
“It is obviously great to win game by game and when you have a match against Liverpool coming up, a big derby, it is important to go into that with a win,” Matic opined on Monday.
“We will show the same character as we did tonight, but we have to be honest: we have to play better, especially when you see our first half performance. We have to do more if we want to win as Liverpool is a team with great quality and we have to do more. We have to play better, but with the same character.”
Speaking of character, there was plenty shown by United’s travelling fans at Selhurst Park and Jose Mourinho reserved special praise for them while speaking to MUTV. The manager stated such a support is now required at Old Trafford, with a triumvirate of high-profile occasions to come in all competitions.
“It is a big game against Liverpool,” Jose said. “I think we both want to finish in the top four, but we both want to finish second so, yes, it is a big game. Then we have Sevilla in the Champions League knockout and Brighton in the FA Cup knockout, so three big matches at Old Trafford.”
As a result of ‘that’ late winner, the fans are on a high and creating a vociferous atmosphere will not be a problem on Saturday afternoon, according to a man who is well-versed in the rivalry.
“What a lift the Palace win is for the game against Liverpool, not just for the fans but everybody associated with the club,” Paddy Crerand explained. “We’re all looking forward to the game now and feeling confident, rather than having doubts. Those were three big points for United on Monday.”
United v Liverpool kicks off at 12:30 GMT on Saturday and MUTV’s live build-up will start at 10:30.
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