Former Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique is pleased to see Manchester United back as Premier League title contenders – as long as the reigning champions can defend their crown.
The Reds trail United by three points at the top of the table heading into Sunday’s crunch clash on Merseyside.
United are winless in four league games against Liverpool, losing on their last two trips to Anfield, but this will be their first meeting with the Old Trafford outfit leading the league since 2013, when Alex Ferguson oversaw their most recent title triumph.
Liverpool have since won the title once and finished as runners-up twice, while United have only once made the top two.
However, ex-defender Jose Enrique, who played for the Reds between 2011 and 2016, believes it is healthy for the rivalry for the teams to be competitive at the summit.
“For me, if I have to be honest with you, I like to see United struggle, obviously, but I also like to see them be there if Liverpool are winning the title,” he told Stats Perform News.
“In the end, it’s the type of fact that it has always been in the Premier League; they are the two clubs with the most history in the Premier League. It’s the reality for titles and everything.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 14, 2021
“Obviously, Manchester City go and buy, then Everton now. Yes, okay, it’s good and it’s amazing, but Manchester United and Liverpool have always been there, so it’s nice to see that battle again.
“When Sir Alex Ferguson was there, Liverpool were struggling a bit, so both of them are going through a good moment now, and it’s nice to see this type of thing.
“It’s true that a derby’s a derby. It doesn’t matter in which position you are in the table, because every player is looking forward to this, so you will see the performance and the tackles and everything [that] is different to other games.
“But it’s nice to see as well that fire. And finally, Liverpool finishing and winning the league, obviously.”
Liverpool are winless in three in the league, but Jose Enrique added: “Obviously, Liverpool are struggling a bit with results now but both of them are in the top of the table.
“So, it’s better to see a game of that magnitude to play for the top spot in the Premier League.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is aiming to avoid becoming just the third United manager to fail to win any of his first four league games against Liverpool and the rivalry will then be renewed once more in the FA Cup at Old Trafford six days later.
3 – Man Utd have won three of their last four home FA Cup ties against Liverpool, with current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring the winner in their meeting back in 1999 (2-1). Prestigious. #EmiratesFACup
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 11, 2021
There will be no supporters at either match due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Jose Enrique still ranks this ahead of any other fixture.
“It’s the best game to be involved in,” he said. “Obviously, it’s going to be different because there’s no fans.
“But it’s still a derby and the players will perform really well; it will be a determined game.
“Personally, when I used to be involved, it was amazing. It was the best game to be involved in.
“When we play at Anfield, this type of game, the atmosphere is completely different. Even the Champions League is special, amazing, but when you play against United, it’s something else, a different experience.”
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