Liverpool opened up a whopping 22-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League as four second-half goals saw them cruise past Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds were lucky to not be behind at the break after a chaotic first half, but normal service was resumed after the interval as they racked up a 16th consecutive top-flight triumph.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, came from two goals down to edge past Watford 3-2 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Antonio Rudiger scored twice as Chelsea and Leicester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, while there were wins for Sheffield United and Bournemouth over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Brighton and Hove Albion came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham, while bottom side Norwich City held Newcastle United to a goalless draw at St James' Park.

SALAH AT THE DOUBLE FOR RELENTLESS REDS

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive victory over Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions secured a 24th win from 25 top-flight games this season, with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

RUDIGER HEADS BRACE IN LANDMARK MATCH

Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard's side were unable to secure maximum points.

Chelsea went ahead a minute into the second half at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount's corner.

Their lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing Leicester level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to give Willy Caballero - picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga - no chance.

Ben Chilwell put the hosts ahead with a cool finish in the 64th minute, but the Blues claimed a share of the spoils to stay eight points behind third-placed Leicester when Rudiger headed home his second 19 minutes from time.

TOFFEES STING HORNETS WITH LATE STRIKE

Everton's Theo Walcott scored in the 90th minute to complete a remarkable turnaround against Watford.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra had put the Hornets 2-0 up, but defender Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul Carlo Ancelotti's side level.

Everton's hopes of sealing all three points looked to be over when Fabian Delph was dismissed 13 minutes from time for two yellow cards, but Walcott steered home after a quick break to send the travelling faithful into raptures.  

Bruno Fernandes was named in the Manchester United starting XI for his debut against Wolves on Saturday.

Portugal international Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting CP in an initial £46.5million (€55m) deal earlier this week, concluding a long-running transfer saga.

And the midfielder was immediately handed a starting berth by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, lining up alongside Juan Mata and Daniel James in support of Anthony Martial.

Fernandes was one of two major United signings in the January transfer window, but the loan deal for Odion Ighalo was only completed shortly before Friday's deadline, ruling him out of the Wolves game.

Wolves have announced the signing of teenage full-back Luke Matheson from Rochdale.

The 17-year-old completed a medical with Nuno Espirito Santo's side on Friday and has returned to the League One club on loan for the remainder of the season.

Wolves have reportedly paid £1million to sign the Rochdale academy product.

Matheson made the headlines when he scored at Old Trafford in September as Rochdale held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw in the EFL Cup third round before losing on penalties.

He also impressed in the FA Cup third round this month, setting up Aaron Wilbraham to secure a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at home, with the Magpies winning the replay 4-1.

Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell told the club's website: "Our recruitment team have watched Luke since he made his debut at 15.

"The system we play, it's set up for him. He plays at right-back for Rochdale at the moment, but he's a right-wing-back in our eyes because of his energy and ability to continually sprint and recover.

"At 17, for a boy to have so much experience, be English and have such a strong mentality is fantastic, and we think he's everything we're about.

"It's great for all of us to get him in the building, we're really excited and we think he's going to be a top talent."

Bruno Fernandes is going to be a leader at Manchester United and will be in the squad to face Wolves on Saturday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

United officially signed Fernandes on a five-and-a-half-year deal from Sporting CP on Thursday, paying an initial £46.5million (€55m) and up to £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons.

Solskjaer does not expect any more incomings at Old Trafford before Friday's transfer deadline but believes Fernandes' leadership qualities in midfield will be an extremely valuable addition to his squad.

Asked why it had taken so long to sign Fernandes, a long-term target for United, Solskjaer replied: "It's about timings, priorities and also valuation, money. You have a club that owns him. You can see how much he means to them, they wanted to keep him.

"For us we're just happy to finally get it over the line, we've followed him for years. He's grown gradually in that period, more and more mature, more and more assured performances.

"He's a great leader of his team. Even with all the speculation that's been around him, probably every club in Europe has been linked with him and he's stayed focused and played some fantastic football.

"It says everything about how pro he is. When you get to meet him he's a fantastic human."

He added of Fernandes' fight: "That's one of the boxes that we had to tick, because we want players this means a lot to and are winners.

"He hates losing, I've seen him myself. But he uses that anger to play better and help his team-mates and he was a fantastic captain for Sporting.

"He's come in here and is going to be a leader as well, I've spoken to him about that."

Fernandes is set to make his debut in the Premier League at home to Wolves this weekend, but Solskjaer is unsure how much of a role he will play.

"He's fit enough to play and he'll be involved definitely, he'll be in the squad, let's get training out of the way today," he said.

"He's had a few hectic days and even his little daughter's third birthday yesterday. I don't know how much he'll be involved, but he's in the squad."

Wolves have completed the signing of Olympiacos winger Daniel Podence for a reported fee of £17million.

The 24-year-old, who can operate on either flank, has put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Premier League club.

Podence will be reunited with former Portugal Under-21 team-mates Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota at Molineux.

With five goals and as many assists in 27 Champions League appearances, Podence is determined to feature for Wolves in Europe's premier club competition.

"I'm very excited. It was always a childhood dream of mine to play in the Premier League and I look at this achievement as a dream come true," he told the club's official website.

"Wolves are a team with a big project, with ambitious goals to look forward to, where I'll get to meet former team-mates with whom I had the pleasure to play with in the past and I hope to be very successful here."

Podence added: "My individual goals are to play as much as possible, help the team with goals and assists and collectively, I'd like to qualify for the Champions League.

"That is a goal that's within our reach, and I hope we can have a better season than last year."

Podence came through the academy at Sporting CP and made his debut for the Portuguese giants in 2014 before making the switch to Greece 18 months ago.

 

Jurgen Klopp revealed he forgot how big Liverpool's lead atop the Premier League was ahead of their win over Wolves on Thursday.

An 84th-minute goal from Roberto Firmino saw Liverpool edge Wolves 2-1, restoring their 16-point lead at the top.

But Klopp said his side's busy schedule meant he needed reminding just how big their advantage was in the lead up to the clash.

"When was the pressure higher on us, this year or last year? Human beings are like this. I don't think about it," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"I had to ask exactly how many points clear we are, that's the truth. I really forgot it in the week, with the number of games, I didn't think about it.

"I know we play Sunday against Shrewsbury and Wednesday West Ham and I know we play Saturday. That's three games in seven days, that's a lot.

"I know we lost Sadio Mane [to a hamstring injury], that's what I think about, that's the pressure I have. All the rest is not pressure.

"We want to win football games and when I arrived here a few years ago we wanted to win football games. That's the pressure [and] yes, I feel that. Apart from that, nothing, it's just football."

Liverpool were tested by Wolves, who drew level in the second half as Raul Jimenez cancelled out Jordan Henderson's eighth-minute opener.

But Firmino's late goal saw Liverpool to a 22nd win in 23 league games and Klopp lauded his side's response.

"We don't go for perfection, we go for a perfect reaction if possible, that's what we try to do, that we really fight back in difficult situations in the game," he said.

"That's what the boys did again and so, we won the game, which is really unbelievable."

Liverpool visit Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

Sadio Mane has a hamstring injury but Liverpool do not yet know the extent of the problem, manager Jurgen Klopp said.

The Senegal star went off in the first half of the Premier League leaders' 2-1 victory at Wolves on Thursday.

Mane pulled up when running for a Mohamed Salah pass and was replaced by Takumi Minamino 33 minutes in.

Klopp hopes the injury is not serious but will wait until further checks can be carried out on Friday.

"Sadio, it's a real shame he had to go off," he told BBC Sport. "Hopefully, it's not too bad, just a muscle tweak, but we will see tomorrow."

Klopp added in a news conference: "He felt something in the hamstring. We don't know yet; we have to wait."

Jordan Henderson's opener was cancelled out by Raul Jimenez and Wolves looked to be heading for what would have been a deserved point before Roberto Firmino struck in the 84th minute.

Klopp accepted his side were not at their best, with Wolves' goal particularly frustrating, but he was delighted with Firmino's clinical composure.

"We scored a wonderful goal, we had wonderful possession but the set-up from Wolves is so good - yes, it's counter-attacking, but it's about being well in possession, using the width of the pitch," he said.

"The goal from a counter-attack doesn't make sense when you're one-nil up, but okay.

"We changed the system two or three times, we calmed it down. We had incredible chances in the first half and then at the end it was a magic moment from Bobby.

"The boys are human. It was a little bit up and down. We had a discussion on the pitch, there was stuff to improve but set-pieces can bring us back in the game, a good bit of skill can bring us back in the game. Wolves were really strong but it's clear we could settle again.

"You just have to find a way to win and have someone who makes the perfect decision and that was Bobby again."

Liverpool moved 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League after Roberto Firmino struck a late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Wolves at Molineux.

The Brazil striker's 10th goal of the season in all competitions six minutes from time was enough to seal a 22nd win from 23 league games this season for Jurgen Klopp's runaway leaders.

There was something of a setback for the visitors, though, who lost Sadio Mane to injury in the first half.

Jurgen Klopp's side had gone 725 minutes without conceding a goal in the top flight, stretching back to the 5-2 win over Everton in December, until Raul Jimenez cancelled out Jordan Henderson's opener.

It looked as though Wolves would be heading for what would have been a deserved point until Firmino fired home from inside the box, as Liverpool stretched their unbeaten league run to 40 matches.

Sadio Mane went off injured in the first half of the Premier League clash between Wolves and Liverpool at Molineux.

The Senegal star pulled up after running to meet a Mohamed Salah backheel around 32 minutes into the game.

Mane immediately signalled to the Liverpool bench that he needed to come off and he was replaced soon after by recent arrival Takumi Minamino.

It was unclear what the problem was with Mane, although it appeared to be muscular as he made his way down the tunnel.

Any long-term problem for Mane would be a blow to Jurgen Klopp, the forward having scored 11 and assisted a further six goals in the league this season.

The Reds were 1-0 up at the time of the injury, Jordan Henderson having broken the deadlock with a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner.

Wolves have completed the signing of highly rated Ecuadorian striker Leonardo Campana on a free transfer following his departure from Barcelona SC.

The 19-year-old has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract and will link up with the club after CONMEBOL's Pre-Olympic Tournament, which is due to conclude early next month.

Campana began to attract reported interest from bigger clubs outside of Ecuador after the 2019 South American Under-20 Championship early last year.

Ecuador lifted the trophy for the first time, with Campana playing a key role in their success as he finished top scorer with six goals. He was also a part of the squad that finished third at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup a few months later.

Campana's emergence with Barcelona and Ecuador's Under-20s led to his first senior cap in March 2019 and he has since gone on to collect another three.

He linked up with Jorge Mendes, also the agent of Cristiano Ronaldo, in November and his Barcelona contract expired at the end of the following month.

Campana will join a host of fellow Mendes clients at Wolves, with the so-called "super-agent" representing many of the Premier League side's players and coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

In an Instagram post, Campana thanked Mendes for his efforts in securing the move, writing: "I'm very happy to be a part of this great team.

"I want to start by thanking God, my family, my agents Jorge Mendes and Gonzalo Vargas for all the work they've done and Barcelona SC. I am ready for this new challenge – let's go."

While Campana had already left Barcelona, the Guayaquil-based club will reportedly receive approximately £300,000 in compensation from Wolves.

Dreams of Premier League glory began to feel like an inevitability at Anfield as Liverpool beat Manchester United on a weekend that saw Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City drop points.

Jurgen Klopp's side dispatched their old rivals with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, leaving Reds supporters full of confidence after Burnley came from behind to beat third-placed Leicester 2-1 at Turf Moor.

There was a surprise result at St. James' Park on Saturday, Frank Lampard's Chelsea dominating for long periods against Newcastle United but succumbing to a late Isaac Hayden goal in a 1-0 defeat.

There were late goals at the Etihad Stadium, where Sergio Aguero thought he had won it with a brace, only for Fernandinho to put through his own net in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

The weekend's Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, as well as Wolves' dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Southampton at St. Mary's.

 

ANFIELD FULL OF HOPE AFTER BACK-TO-BACK HOME WINS OVER UNITED

They are no longer saying it quietly: Liverpool fans firmly believe the title is theirs after watching their side beat United on Sunday.

The victory marked the first time Liverpool have claimed consecutive home Premier League wins over the Red Devils since winning three in a row between September 2008 and March 2011 and there was an air of invulnerability around Anfield at the final whistle.

Liverpool have taken 91 points from a possible 93 in their last 31 Premier League matches, winning 30 and drawing just one, while United have now lost nine of their last 16 top-flight away games (W3 D4 L9).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have failed to score in eight of those games and they gave Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson little to do despite creating a number of goalscoring opportunities.

Alisson kept himself busy by becoming the first Reds keeper to assist a Premier League goal since March 2010, when Pepe Reina laid on a goal against Sunderland.

 

 


LATE HAYDEN WINNER LEAVES LAMPARD'S BLUES REELING

Chelsea have lost as many Premier League games this season as they did in the entirety of 2018-19 after Hayden scored in the 94th minute to snatch victory for Newcastle over Lampard's inconsistent Blues.

Four of Chelsea's eight league defeats this season have come in their last eight matches and supporters making the trip to Tyneside had reason to be fearful of their side coming unstuck.

Chelsea have now lost five of their last seven top-flight trips to St. James' Park but defeats to teams managed by Steve Bruce have been a rare occurrence - this was only the second time he has beaten the Blues in 23 games against them as a manager (D5 L16).

Prior to Hayden's strike, Newcastle had not scored a last-minute winner since Ayoze Perez struck against Tottenham in December 2015.

It was Hayden's third Premier League goal and came in his 70th appearance in the competition, his last coming in February 2019 against Wolves.

 

POROUS CITY PAY FOR ERRORS AT THE BACK

City came from behind to lead with three minutes left in their clash with Palace but conceded at home in the Premier League for the 12th time this season as the Eagles secured a point at the death.

Pep Guardiola's men have now conceded as many goals at home in the league as they did in the whole of last season and this was their third draw of the 2019-20 season - in their title-winning campaign last term they only drew twice.

Aguero's double inside five minutes marked the Argentina international's 250th and 251st goals in all competitions for the club in his 360th appearance, but Fernandinho became the first City player to score a Premier League own-goal since Nicolas Otamendi against Huddersfield Town in November 2017.

The scoring was opened by new signing Cenk Tosun, who netted in the 39th minute to become the fourth Turkish player to reach 10 Premier League goals after Muzzy Izzet, Tuncay Sanli and Tugay.

Palace are ninth in the table after four consecutive draws - the last time they drew as many Premier League games in a row was in 1992-93 when they started the season with the same sequence.

 

WOLVES EMERGING AS COMEBACK SPECIALISTS

When Raul Jimenez scored from the penalty spot at St. Mary's he pulled Wolves level after they had been two goals down, but there was even better to follow for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Jimenez scored again in the 76th minute, taking his tally to 19 goals in all competitions this season and clinching three points for Wolves that means they have now picked up 18 from losing positions in the Premier League this season - seven more than any other side.

Falling behind after 15 minutes to a Jan Bednarek goal was nothing new for the visitors, who have conceded first in 16 league games this season including each of their last seven in a row.

But Jimenez has been directly involved in 28 goals this season and after Shane Long netted his 54th Premier League goal to make it 2-0 to the Saints, Pedro Neto scored for the second time in his last three league appearances to tee up the Mexico international for a memorable brace.

Jimenez now has 19 goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions this season, giving him more direct goal involvements than any other top-flight player in 2019-20.

Jurgen Klopp has no issue with supporters celebrating as if they have won the Premier League, but says Liverpool are in "exactly the same situation plus three points" after beating Manchester United.

Liverpool defeated United - the only team to take points off them in the league this term - 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

As Klopp's men moved 16 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, fans on Merseyside chanted: "We're going to win the league."

The win, secured with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, was quickly deemed by many significant in Liverpool's pursuit of a first top-flight championship since 1989-90.

But Klopp was adamant he and his players still could not afford to celebrate.

"[The fans] can sing that, but they sang that a couple of times in the past, I think," he told Sky Sports. "There's absolutely no problem. Everybody should celebrate a situation - apart from us.

"We have no problem with that. There's nothing changed. We have exactly the same situation plus three points, which is great, wonderful, unbelievable. But nothing else has changed.

"I'll tell you immediately the moment it feels different. So far, it feels exactly the same always."

The Liverpool manager added he was looking no further ahead than their next match at Wolves.

Klopp said: "I have no idea if we can be caught or not. First and foremost, it's the Premier League. We play on Thursday against Wolves.

"They played an exceptional comeback last night [a 3-2 win at Southampton]. They have not had the results they wanted, but they've caused us here a lot of problems.

"It's the next massive challenge we face, and why should I think about more than that? I'm not smart enough to do that, to be honest. There's not enough space in my brain.

"We will prepare for Wolves, try our best, and then we will see."

Liverpool were pushed by United prior to Salah's stoppage-time clincher, with Anthony Martial missing a big chance, but Klopp claimed the visitors had set up to "annoy" his side.

"What a performance against an opponent with the quality of United and the set-up of United," he said.

"It was about, and I'm sure Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would say the same, [United] wanting to annoy us, disrupt our game, defend, counter-attack.

"They had moments when they played football, but it was not too often, and all the other moments were just difficult against them to create chances.

"But we did it. Wow. The manner in which we created chances was really exceptional."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood take up the mantle of Manchester United's last ruthless front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.

One of United's finest modern forward lines led Alex Ferguson's side to two league titles, an EFL Cup, the Club World Cup and back-to-back Champions League finals, one of which they won, between 2007 and 2009.

Ronaldo and Tevez left for Real Madrid and Manchester City respectively that year and United have struggled since to form a similarly effective trident in attack.

However, there are encouraging signs around Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, who have scored more goals combined in all competitions this season than Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Solskjaer thinks it will take time to match the understanding of the Premier League leaders' attacking players but, ahead of Sunday's trip to Anfield, he believes in the potential of his forwards.

"The front three that they've got have been playing together for ages, not ages, but for seasons now," he said. "You can see the rotations, movements, the understanding between them, and we hope that our three get that understanding. I've probably only started them once together, the Newcastle United game, so we've got a way to go to get to the level of the three [at Liverpool], the understanding and consistency they have. But we scored four goals in that game [against Newcastle], so it's probably something I've got to look at more often.

"I believe in ours. We're going to add to them as well, definitely, but in the years to come I'm sure we'll see lots of them three. But Liverpool have scored more goals than us outside the front three so I'm not going to say ours are better than theirs or theirs are better than ours.

"We've got them on long contacts, developing into a very, very exciting front three. Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney were different, floating, but that's what we want as Man United supporters - you want to see them express themselves, go to places like Anfield and put fear into their defenders. But we've got Dan James as well, who adds to that, so I'm very excited about it."

Solskjaer agrees that United's goalscoring threat belies the insinuation made by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, after the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, that the Red Devils are overly defensive against their fierce rivals.

"I don't think it's an accusation. You take it as a compliment that they didn't create chances against us," Solskjaer said. "When the opposition manager is frustrated, that's a good sign for you as a manager. Of course, I think we've been closer to winning both those games, so I don't know what the problem has been."

Ashley Young is set to join Inter provided he passes a medical on Friday and Solskjaer confirmed there were no plans to sign a replacement full-back.

For now, the United boss is putting faith in young Brandon Williams to rise to the challenge of playing at Anfield.

"Does he look like I need to speak to him? I don't think so," Solskjaer replied when asked if Williams might need guidance ahead of a traditionally tempestuous match.

"He's been absolutely outstanding since he's come in. Every challenge we've put in front of him, he's tackled head on and he's only 19, had 10, 11 starts. He reminds me so much of the mentality of Gary Neville and I think he'll enjoy going to Anfield, put it that way."

There is continued speculation United are trying to finalise the signing of midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but Solskjaer would only say: "I can't tell you about any players that play for other teams. We're focusing on this game at the moment. That's my only concern."

With United's arrival expected to be greeted by Liverpool fans outside the ground, Solskjaer says he has no particular concerns about a hostile atmosphere.

"No safety fears, no," he said. "They want to try to intimidate us but as long as it's within the boundaries. I've been sat in a coach going into Europe or Anfield and whatever they shout and scream at you, you don't really notice.

"We need a very, very good performance to go there and win, but we beat Manchester City last month, we had the Paris Saint-Germain game – we need to get to the level of those performances definitely when you go away to a team that's top of the league.

"The last two performances we've had against Liverpool, we've played at Old Trafford twice, drawn twice and been closest to winning both those games, so we've got games to look back at that will give us lots of belief.

"if we perform to our best, we've got a chance to win."

With Liverpool looking likely to end a title drought stretching back to 1990, Solskjaer thinks such an unexpectedly long gap between league triumphs for their bitter rivals should serve as a warning to United.

"We're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen," he said when asked if he feared United, who last won the title in 2013, could experience a similar dry spell. 

"Let that be a lesson for us. They've been close a few times and we can't let ourselves for another 24 years without winning the league. I'm sure we won't. I believe in this club. We've started something that takes a little bit of time, but we'll get there."

Marcus Rashford is unlikely to be fit for Manchester United's clash with Liverpool on Sunday, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Rashford came off the bench and was involved in Juan Mata's winning goal just minutes later as United beat Wolves 1-0 in the FA Cup third-round replay.

The striker was forced off 10 minutes from time with an apparent back problem, however, with Solskjaer admitting the plan to use Rashford had "backfired".

Solskjaer later assured they would do everything possible to get Rashford fit for the trip to Anfield, but he is not convinced he will be ready.

"I can't tell you now," Solskjaer told reporters on Friday when asked whether Rashford would be available.

"We'll do some more checks and treatment with him today. I'm not going to hold my breath. But let's see.

"As I said with Harry [Maguire] a few weeks ago, of course we're going to give him the absolute amount of time to find out.

"We're going to do some more checks and treatment with him today. Yesterday, of course, was just a recovery day anyway and some treatment for him.

"I haven't seen him this morning, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I would probably think that he wouldn't be ready, but let's see. There's still 48 hours, more than that, so let's see."

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