Curtis Jones’ double and strikes from Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah eased Liverpool into a record 19th League Cup semi-final with a 5-1 win over West Ham.

After Sunday’s disappointing goalless draw against Manchester United, the first time Jurgen Klopp’s side had failed to win at home this season, ended a run of 34 successive matches with a goal the Hammers provided less stubborn resistance.

West Ham manager David Moyes departed after a 21st unsuccessful attempt to win at Anfield as his club’s woeful record at the ground extended to one win in the last 56.

Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders says Darwin Nunez is having “a much better season than last year” and that he sees him as a player “full of fire”.

The 24-year-old Uruguay striker, signed from Benfica in 2022 and scorer of 15 goals in all competitions for the Reds in the last campaign, has seven so far this term.

Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United made it 10 club appearances without netting, his last Liverpool goal coming in the 2-1 Carabao Cup fourth-round win at Bournemouth in early November, but Lijnders says Nunez should not be judged on goals alone.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at home against West Ham, Lijnders said: “I think Darwin is full of desire, you see this in each game, and if we would only judge players on the goals that would be so unfair, because in our way, always when we reach our targets or really were there to compete, it was always about the collective.

“I feel there is a good connection between Mo (Salah) and Darwin, the way they see each other, assist each other, and I feel above everything that Darwin is playing a much better season than last year, the way how he defends for the team, goes, chases back, his counter press as well. He helps us a lot when we are deep and we can play with him as a reference.

“It’s a long time we play with a false nine, and now its Darwin Nunez. He is learning but I like a lot, and I think this guy is full of fire. That’s what our stadium likes and that’s what we need as well, to lead the line in this way. He can only become better.

“It’s always with goals, if you create a lot, the goals will come naturally. We are creating and sometimes you have to be a little bit lucky. He feels our trust, that’s the thing we can give him.”

Jonny Evans was pleased by Manchester United’s hard-fought, morale-boosting point at Liverpool as Erik ten Hag’s men blocked out the memories of last season’s 7-0 Anfield annihilation.

Pressure and scrutiny has increased as the Dutchman’s difficult second season has worn on, with last weekend’s 3-0 home humbling by Bournemouth the nadir of a wretched campaign.

A lifeless 1-0 home loss to Bayern Munich followed on Tuesday night, with United exiting the Champions League and European football just days before a daunting trip to in-form rivals Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had won every home match this season and had 34 attempts on Sunday, but Andre Onana pulled off eight saves as the visitors dug deep to secure a much-needed 0-0 draw.

 

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“We’ll take the point,” experienced centre-back Evans said. “I think we are obviously seventh in the league at the moment, but we were eighth going into the match. Liverpool were top.

“It was a hard-fought point. They dominated the game in terms of being around our box, but we probably had two of the best chances.

“I’ve played games here where you have to grind it out. You don’t always come to Anfield and play well.

“I’ve been a part of this club in the past – even back then, in 2013, we got a win here but the game was very difficult. You have to grind it out.

“It’s a battle, really. It is a game of moments, big moments in the game. We’ll come away, take the point, and move on.”

Sunday match was United’s first trip to Anfield since March’s 7-0 thumping – the largest defeat for either side in this fixture.

Evans was among the United fans watching through his fingers on that occasion and, having returned to the club over the summer, said the whole squad put that loss to the back of their minds.

“I think you block it out by not listening to that,” the 35-year-old academy product said.

“I think we have our own responsibilities going into the game and every game is a chance to win. We always go into every game thinking we are going to win.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk certainly did not believe that judging by his comments after a frustrating afternoon, claiming only one team tried to win and United were “buzzing” with a point.

“It is their home patch, they’ve got a good record here and they are playing well,” Evans said.

“They are at the top of the league, they’ve got some dangerous players. We’ll take the point, we defended our box well and move on from it.”

Evans impressed alongside Raphael Varane in the heart of an injury-hit defence, with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia ruled out for a game that ended with Diogo Dalot’s sending-off.

“When you are defending on the edge of your box, there are always fine margins at that point,” he said.

“When you come away with a clean sheet after defending like that, it is always enjoyable.”

Asked if this can be the start of something, Evans said: “I think you can take this game in isolation, Man United versus Liverpool is a big match.

“I think we can take the fact that we have been able to defend our box as something we have probably… in the last three or four weeks when we have had to defend our box, we haven’t done that well enough.

“It is something we have discussed, so we take that out of it. Take confidence from it.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk insists he was not being arrogant in dismissing Manchester United’s overly defensive display at Anfield.

The Dutchman provoked a response from former United midfielder Roy Keane when he said only one team played to win.

Keane said the comments were arrogant and disrespectful, adding: “He needs a reminder himself; he’s playing for a club that have won the title once in 30-odd years.”

Van Dijk insisted there was honesty but no arrogance in his words on a frustrating afternoon where Liverpool had 34 shots but failed to score for the first time since April.

“I like Roy Keane, if he said that then it’s fine,” he said.

“He is Man United throughout and I understand he could react like that but I felt what I said and there is absolutely no arrogance in that.

“Everyone who watched the game probably felt the same. We move on. We had the opportunity and we couldn’t score and that’s the frustrating part.”

For the first time since April Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to score, ending a club record-equalling run of 34 successive matches, and the 34 shots they attempted was their most on record (since 2003-04) without scoring.

Striker Darwin Nunez has not found the net in 10 matches, Mohamed Salah, who scored 10 in 12 league games before November’s international break, has just one in the last five, Luis Diaz has scored once in the league since mid-August while Cody Gakpo’s two league goals were both in September.

December is the worst time to lose your form with the number of fixtures during the month and Van Dijk admits the players may have been trying just too hard against their arch-rivals.

“Maybe (we were) trying to force it a little bit at times and we could have made a better decision but it was hard to break the low block down,” he added.

“You push, you push, you push and try to do everything in your power but it was one of those days we couldn’t find the right decision to score a goal.

“At times – I won’t say every time – we forced it too much to find a solution which wasn’t there but that’s football.”

There is no time to dwell on the disappointing result which cost them top spot as West Ham are the midweek visitors for the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, a competition Liverpool won in 2022.

“We move on and have to learn from a lot of moments – and we will – and focus on Wednesday,” said Van Dijk.

“Let’s go for it. It’s the first trophy that could be in reach and it will be a very tough game as West Ham are also in a good moment with good players.”

On this day in 2014, Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli was suspended and fined after making racist and anti-Semitic comments on social media.

The then 24-year-old was was banned for one match, fined £25,000 and ordered to attend an education course following an independent regulatory commission hearing after accepting an aggravated breach of the Football Association Rule E3, relating to references of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality or religion or belief.

Italy international Balotelli was charged after posting an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram which included the words “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”.

He quickly deleted the post and the following day issued an apology via his Twitter account.

Balotelli wrote: “I apologise if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that out of context (it) may have the opposite effect.”

Following the commission’s ruling, Balotelli offered a further apology to his team-mates and the club’s fans.

He posted on Twitter: “Following the recent events related to my ‘Super Mario’ post, the FA decision has made clear that it was wrong.

“I am sorry that my team-mates and supporters of Liverpool FC have to be penalised for something I did and now come to regret.

“It is my intention to comply with the decision of the FA and make sure it never happens again.”

Former Inter Milan, Manchester City and AC Milan frontman Balotelli, now 33 and playing his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, has been no stranger to controversy during his career.

Days after signing for City, he hit the headlines after crashing his Audi R8 en route to the club’s training ground and was found to be carrying £5,000 in cash, and he had another run-in with the emergency services after a firework was set off in the bathroom of his home, triggering a fire.

Roy Keane has hit out at Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk for showing “arrogance” in his post-match interview after Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield.

Van Dijk told Sky Sports after the match that there was “only one team trying to win the game”, suggesting the under-pressure visitors were more than happy with their point.

Former United skipper Keane, now a Sky pundit, immediately responded to Van Dijk’s remarks, saying: “We heard Van Dijk speaking there, obviously a lot of arrogance coming out of him, dissing United like that.

“He needs to be reminded himself, he’s playing for a club that’s won one title in 30-odd years.

“He said only one team wanted to win, Man United are buzzing with the point. Man United are in a difficult place, like Liverpool have been in a difficult place for many a year. So maybe that bit of arrogance backfired on him today.”

Fellow pundit Daniel Sturridge looked to defend Van Dijk, but Keane doubled down.

“That’s arrogance,” the Irishman said. “He says ‘Man United were buzzing’, ‘Only one team came to play’. I came here many a time when I was at United, when Liverpool were in a tough place and they were happy with a draw.

“Sometimes players need a reminder, when they’re playing for clubs like Liverpool and everyone’s saying Man United are this and that – United are in a bad place, but for many a year Man United were in a good place. I wouldn’t be disrespecting clubs like he is.”

He continued: “Yeah, we were all expecting a (Liverpool win)… you still have to go and do it. That’s what great teams do and teams that win championships every year do – the Man City, the Man Utds, the Liverpool of the ’80s.”

Erik ten Hag was proud of Manchester United’s dogged display in a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Anfield that ended with Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk claiming only one team tried to win.

All eyes were on Anfield as the bitter rivals went toe-to-toe on Sunday, with Jurgen Klopp’s men looking to return to the Premier League summit as the visitors tried to stop the rot.

Liverpool had an eye-watering 34 shots across the match and United goalkeeper Andre Onana made eight saves, but the hosts could not find a way through.

 

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The tense clash ended scoreless and frustrated skipper Van Dijk said United are “buzzing” to have left with a point.

 

“If you see how we played the game, how we obviously had most of the ball and created some opportunities, I think there was only one team that were trying to win the game,” the centre-back told Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. So, that’s why it’s frustrating because we want to win every game of course, but especially if we play against a team like them.”

United manager Ten Hag brushed aside his fellow Dutchman’s comment, simply saying in response that “it’s his opinion”.

The Red Devils boss also gave little away when it came to his view on Diogo Dalot’s sending off for a pair of quickfire bookings for dissent, saying “I will leave the judgement to you”.

But Ten Hag was more forthcoming when it came to his side’s reaction to their alarming back-to-back Old Trafford defeats to Bournemouth and Bayern Munich.

“We should have taken more of the ball regains three or four passes in where we are capable of and then we could have even hurt the opponent even more,” the Dutchman said.

“But all over in the end, you have to conclude, we had the best chances from open play for Rasmus Hojlund and (Alejandro) Garnacho.

“I said that after the game in the dressing room I’m very proud of this team. We should do this more often. I said this.

“For instance, Newcastle was also a tough game, we make one mistake, we switch off and concede the goal.

“But when you stay in the game, when you are disciplined in your game plan, finally it opens up and you can take your chances or get two, three, four passes in after the ball regains, get the switches in and then you can really be more dominant in the game.”

United end the weekend seventh in the Premier League and the end of Liverpool’s 100 per cent home record this season means they are sat in second.

Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Brighton in the early kick-off saw them go top and, while claiming it is too early to talk about the title, boss Jurgen Klopp saw promising signs from his side on Sunday.

“Of course we can improve and now we are in a situation all of a sudden where you are really disappointed when you draw against United,” the Liverpool manager said.

“That’s just it’s a bit strange but it’s how it is so it’s all OK, we are in the position we belong and from here we go and we will see.

“We have our injuries as well. Nobody speaks about our injuries, but we still have them and it doesn’t help obviously with the amount of games especially.

“It will be really tough and my boys for me today looked like they are really ready just to give it a proper try and then we will see what that means exactly.

“But for today, if you take the right things out of this game then this was a super important game because the counter press was the best we played with this group.”

Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester United despite having 34 shots to end their 100 per cent home record at Anfield.

Both sides were deadlocked heading into the break but Liverpool came within inches of an opener when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s strike from distance curled just wide of the target and United keeper Andre Onana made eight saves to keep United in the game.

United sensed an opportunity to take all three points but Rasmus Hojlund saw his one-on-one shot go straight at Alisson with their only shot on target and were forced to play the final minutes of injury time with a player less after Diogo Dalot was given two yellow cards for dissent.

The draw, only the fourth 0-0 in this season’s Premier League, means Liverpool fail to win for the first time at Anfield and miss the opportunity to climb back to the top of the table while United keep a first clean sheet in six in all competitions.

Arsenal returned to the top following a 2-0 victory over Brighton.

The Gunners had to wait until the second half to make their breakthrough when Gabriel Jesus headed home from a corner and they sealed all three points in the 87th minute when Kai Havertz slotted past Bart Verbruggen from close range.

Aston Villa came from a goal down to extend their winning run to three matches with a 2-1 win over Brentford as both sides finished with 10 men.

Brentford hit the front on the stroke of half-time when Keane Lewis-Potter blasted home from a corner but the turning point came after Ben Mee was sent off for a challenge on Leon Bailey following a VAR check.

Villa made their man advantage count and equalised when Alex Moreno nodded home at the back post before Ollie Watkins found the winner against his former club four minutes from time, but the game finished with 10 players for each side after Boubacar Kamara was given a red card for a coming together with Yegor Yarmolyuk.

West Ham bounced back from from their heavy defeat to Fulham last week with a convincing 3-0 win over Wolves at the London Stadium.

The Hammers opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Mohammed Kudus fired into the bottom corner from outside the area and the Ghanaian doubled the advantage 10 minutes later as Kudus latched onto another long pass from Lucas Paqueta and tucked home close range.

Paqueta picked up his third assist of the match when he unleashed Jarrod Bowen to score his 10th Premier League goal of the season.

Liverpool’s failure to score for the first time since April cost them top spot in the Premier League as Manchester United secured a goalless draw to deny their arch-rivals a club record.

Erik ten Hag’s side succeeded where 34 previous opponents had failed in keeping out a team which finished the game with five attacking players on the pitch and Trent Alexander-Arnold playing as the central fulcrum.

The visitors offered little in the way of threat themselves as their goal drought on enemy territory extended to 507 minutes, stretching back five years, but they at least stemmed the bleeding which had seen them concede 21 times in the last five meetings home and away.

In that respect, the under-scrutiny United boss can take a crumb of comfort and their supporters will have been equally delighted to both deny Liverpool recovering top spot after Arsenal had moved ahead earlier in the day and also ending their 100 per cent home record.

Less impressive was Diogo Dalot’s controversial double-yellow card sending off in added time.

It is now just one win in six for the visitors and defensive performances such as this will not get them any closer to the top four.

Ten Hag also still has to find a way to unlock the potential of £72million summer signing Rasmus Hojland, who had United’s only shot on target in the 67th minute.

His Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp will be even more disappointed, however, that his side did not convert their dominance – they had 34 shots in the game – into something more than a point.

After recent late escapes against Fulham and Crystal Palace there was no sting in the tail here, in fact there was very little sting at all throughout as Darwin Nunez never looked like ending a goalless run that has now extended to seven matches.

While Mohamed Salah turned and toiled, even his mercurial skills could not unlock a committed United defence which saw goalkeeper Andre Onana have one of his better days.

In front of their biggest attendance for half a century – 57,000 after the top tier of the Anfield Road stand was opened – Liverpool established their dominance in the first five minutes, winning a corner after 15 seconds on their way to 89 percent possession and two shots.

However, they failed to turn that into anything substantive after Sofyan Amrabat cleared a Kostas Tsimikas free-kick just yards off his own goalline and a stretching Nunez failed to reach Salah’s lobbed pass.

The pressure United were being put under was typified by Antony passing the ball out of play as intended target Dalot ran past him.

United’s narrow back four gave their hosts plenty of space out wide but although Alexander-Arnold and Salah regularly found themselves in those areas they were not effective enough.

Onana failed to hold a Luke Shaw half-clearance and Salah’s shot was deflected wide but did much better in tipping over Virgil van Dijk’s header.

Salah opted to shoot weakly instead of passing to the overlapping Tsimikas in a rare error of judgement which was reflective of a half which had plenty of shots, the most against United in the first half in five years, but little genuine threat.

In that aspect United’s plan was working and, after Alexander-Arnold, who made a timely challenge on Alejandro Garnacho as he bore down on goal, drove into the side-netting Klopp switched to a 4-4-2 with his hybrid right-back moving full-time into central midfield and Salah deployed up top.

It brought immediate change with Alexander-Arnold’s low drive just wide and Onana palming away a Salah effort and charging down a Luis Diaz shot.

In between the isolated Hjoland found the chest of Alisson Becker with just the keeper to beat.

United swapped Garnacho for Marcus Rashford while Klopp switched again, this time to a 4-2-3-1 with the attacking talents of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott deployed.

However, the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was substitute Joe Gomez finding the side-netting.

Things ended on a bizarre note with Dalot’s fume for having a decision go against him resulting in two cautions within the space of a few seconds.

Liverpool have condemned the actions that led to Manchester United’s team bus being damaged before Sunday’s Premier League clash and vowed to punish those responsible.

A number of objects are understood to have been thrown at the visitors’ coach as it approached Anfield as the Red Devils made the short trip to Merseyside.

Part of a window on the upper deck of the bus was smashed, with footage on social media appearing to show it was as the result of a glass bottle being thrown.

A statement from the hosts read: “Liverpool Football Club utterly condemns the actions that led to damage being caused to the Manchester United team bus during its arrival at Anfield this afternoon.

“We are aware of footage of the incident circulating online and are working with Merseyside Police, to fully investigate and identify those responsible.

“Any individuals found guilty of this reprehensible behaviour will also face the full force of the club’s sanction process.”

Michael Owen was named European Footballer of the Year on this day in 2001.

The Liverpool striker became the first Englishman to land the Ballon d’Or award since Kevin Keegan claimed it for a second successive time in 1979.

Owen became the sixth British winner since its inception in 1956: a list also featuring Stanley Matthews, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best.

With 176 votes, he was ahead of Real Madrid and Spain star Raul (140) and Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Khan (114) in the top three following a poll of journalists conducted by France Football magazine.

Owen had helped Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool win the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Super Cup during the calendar year – scoring twice in the 2-1 FA Cup final win over Arsenal – and netted a hat-trick in England’s 5-1 win over Germany in Munich in September.

At the point he was confirmed as the Ballon d’Or winner, his record for club and country in 2001 was 36 goals in 54 appearances.

The striker, who had only just turned 22, said: “We have had a great year at Liverpool in winning five trophies (including the Charity Shield) and I’m very happy to have won this award as well.

“Some fantastic names past and hopefully in the future are going to win this award. I am very happy and delighted to join that list.

“It’s the highest privilege I can win as a player and I am over the moon to win it. I would like to thank the team and all the staff, everyone who is involved with Liverpool. It’s their award too.”

Owen was eighth in the FIFA World Player of the Year poll of international coaches, in which David Beckham was narrowly runner-up to Luis Figo.

Erik ten Hag admitted players sometimes need a “kick in the a***” to get the best out of them as out-of-sorts Manchester United prepare to face rivals Liverpool.

This has been a challenging second campaign in charge of United for the Dutchman, with defeats in half of their 24 matches in all competitions putting his position under scrutiny.

Lifeless back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Bayern Munich did not help his cause, with injury-hit United falling well short of the standards they set last season.

The form of too many high performers has dropped off, with forward Marcus Rashford a prime example having scored 30 club goals last term and just two this season.

Asked what kind of approach he believes would get the best out of the forward, Ten Hag underlined the need to choose the right method for the right player.

“I think any player almost, sometimes it’s arm around the shoulder, sometimes a kick in the a***,” Ten Hag said.

“And then I think that makes a difference in the management, so when are you taking which approach? The kick in the a*** or arm around the shoulder?”

Ten Hag will be hoping United do not receive a collective kick in the backside at bitter rivals Liverpool.

The Red Devils were hammered 7-0 when they last visited Anfield in March and will be dealing with as many as 11 first-team absentees when they return there on Sunday.

“I always have (belief),” Ten Hag said. “When I go to any game, I have the strong belief I am going to win. I will prepare the team in that way – that we are going to win.

“And why? Because it’s based on our rules and principles in the game, and it’s based on our game plan and then a strong belief in the quality of my players.”

Pushed on what he has seen in particular ahead of Liverpool, he said: “I see the quality on the pitch, on the training pitch.

“But the only moment you have to prove it is in the games, isn’t it?

“This team proved this in certain games – when they have been under high pressure, they played very good football.

“But also we have our lows, so high highs and low lows, so we have to as a team get more consistent.”

Ten Hag and his side have under-performed massively after a promising first season, leading to questions about whether he has a long-term future at United.

The Glazers’ dithering and the protracted partial takeover of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s group has led to a state of flux, with the Dutchman saying he has not spoken to Ineos during their recent visits to the club.

“I can’t say anything about it,” Ten Hag said. “There are others in this club who are dealing with the strategic review, so I’m just waiting.

“I’m focusing on my job, which is performing with the team, developing the team.”

Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo admits the desire to dominate drove the players to their historic 7-0 win over arch-rivals Manchester United last season.

Erik ten Hag’s side suffered the largest defeat in the two clubs’ 211-game history in March, conceding six times in the second half as they were completely overwhelmed.

There was a party atmosphere in the Anfield stands that afternoon but on the pitch Gakpo said the mood was professional and clinical.

“It was a great game that one. We knew we had to win and after a good first half from both teams the second half we really dominated and scored a lot of goals,” the Dutchman said.

“I scored just before half-time and I think just two minutes after half-time Darwin (Nunez) scored the second one and two minutes after I scored the third. It was good for us to score that quick after half-time and kill the game. It was amazing.

“At one point you are not really looking at the score, you just want to dominate and show your best and I think everyone had a really great game that day. Hopefully we can repeat it.”

United return to Merseyside in much worse form having lost half of their 24 matches this season, finishing bottom of their Champions League group, compared to the spring when they arrived with eight wins and just one defeat in an 11-game run.

But Gakpo said Liverpool are guarded against complacency as they prepare to face a team who had the manager and player (Harry Maguire) of the month after three successive Premier League wins in November.

“Obviously they have a lot of quality in their team so we cannot under-estimate anything, it doesn’t matter what phase they are at in how they perform,” he said.

“We can’t take them lightly but we have to play our game and not really look at them. We have a lot of quality as well and we just have to show it again.”

Liverpool have the chance to establish a club-record 35th successive game with a goal on Sunday, bettering the record set by Jurgen Klopp’s side between April and December 2021.

“We know we score every game so hopefully we can keep that and score some goals,” said Gakpo.

“We are looking forward to the game but we are not thinking ‘We have to score seven again’. We just go into the game focused and really wanting to win.

“We know we are top of the table, we know what we want and we just have to keep working hard, keep staying together, focusing on every game and win every game.”

Erik ten Hag is confident misfiring Manchester United have the quality to win at high-flying rivals Liverpool despite their alarming recent performances and sheer number of absentees.

The Dutchman and his rickety, confidence-sapped team are under the microscope after last weekend’s 3-0 home humbling by Bournemouth was followed by a meek midweek European exit.

United mustered just one shot on target as Tuesday’s key Champions League clash with Bayern Munich ended in a lifeless 1-0 defeat – their 12th loss of a campaign that could reach a new low on Sunday.

Ten Hag’s men are making the short trip to Anfield for the first time since being hammered there 7-0 in March, which came just a week after they won the Carabao Cup at Wembley.

United head to Liverpool in a far worse state this time around, with as many as 11 first-team players absent for a match that their under-fire manager believes his side can defy the odds in.

“They are playing good, no doubt,” Ten Hag said of Liverpool, who began the weekend top of the Premier League – 10 points ahead of their sixth-placed visitors.

“But we have had some tough games in the last period, as Bayern is also a very tough team.

“We have seen that we can go head-to-head with them and that is our challenge for Sunday as well.”

Asked if he is worried about the number of absentees he is dealing with, Ten Hag said: “We will put out a team who can challenge, who is confident to win that game.

“We are preparing the team in the best way we can. We are confident we can put out a team who can win there.”

Skipper Bruno Fernandes is suspended on Sunday and rejuvenated defender Harry Maguire has joined those in United’s packed treatment room having sustained a groin injury on Tuesday.

Ten Hag says Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford have been cleared to feature, but Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof and Mason Mount look set to miss out once again.

Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia and Amad Diallo are also dealing with injuries, while Jadon Sancho remains banished from the first-team set-up.

It is an eye-watering absentee list that increases the incline on an uphill battle against Liverpool, who have won four of the past five league meetings against United – scoring at least four goals in those wins.

The 7-0 annihilation last time was a record defeat in this fixture but Ten Hag dismissed the suggestion his players may be scared of such a hiding happening again.

“I didn’t see last season that we were scared there,” the under-fire United boss said.

“It was a bad experience. But it is not similar, you start again on null.

“Last season, in the first half, I think we played very decent and we had got hammered just after half-time. Then we collapsed.

“Yes, that can’t happen, but that was last year. It was a different team with different players, for a part at least.

“We will not ignore it but we go there and we will be confident and I know my players will be confident to go there from the start to the end.

“We have to fight there, we have to challenge there and you go there with the idea, so we will prepare them with the idea to win there.”

Under-fire Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag does not fear for his job as his absentee-hit, confidence-sapped side prepare to travel to bitter rivals Liverpool.

The afterglow of a promising first season in the dugout has long since disappeared, with the Dutchman’s position under intense scrutiny after a wretched start to his second campaign.

United’s Carabao Cup defence ended last month and Tuesday’s lifeless 1-0 home loss to Bayern Munich in their Champions League group finale saw them eliminated from Europe with a whimper.

Now comes the unenviable task of travelling to Premier League leaders Liverpool, who start the weekend 10 points ahead of their misfiring sixth-placed rivals.

United’s 12 defeats in 24 matches in all competitions has heaped the pressure on Ten Hag, but he is not worried about the axe ahead of the trip to Anfield.

“No, there’s no concern because I’m here to win and I have to make the team play better,” the Dutchman said.

“If you play good, even then I say good is not good enough, and now we are inconsistent, so I have to work on that the team is going to play for longer periods in a high level.”

The fact United are in a state of flux, as the wait for confirmation of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s partial takeover rumbles on, has perhaps given Ten Hag more time than others would have got.

Asked what gives him the confidence he retains the backing of everyone at the club, the United boss said: “I feel that (backing), yeah, and they tell it to me.

“That’s fine and that’s OK, but I’m focusing on the process. I’m focusing on making this team play better. I am focusing on make the individuals better and that’s my concern.

“That is all I’m doing – focusing on the right thing and that is the team.”

United’s team need a lot of attention judging by this season’s meek performances, with last weekend’s humiliating 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth the nadir.

In truth, the Red Devils have not been the same since losing 7-0 at Anfield in March, just a week after ending their six-year wait for a trophy by lifting the Carabao Cup.

It was a record defeat in this fixture and some United fans fear the season could reach a new low on Sunday.

“I think everyone knows, I think everyone is highly motivated when you go to Anfield,” Ten Hag said.

“It’s a great place to go and you know it’s going to be tough, and I think what every top footballer wants is to have that challenge, so you have to look forward.

“Last year of course we take that in our memory, but you have to also take the benefit from it, learn from it and on Sunday we can prove that.”

Skipper Bruno Fernandes faced particular criticism after March’s Anfield annihilation and will miss the return after picking up a needless fifth booking of the season for dissent.

The United captain’s absence compounds an eye-watering list of absentees, including injured Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Tyrell Malacia and Amad Diallo.

Mason Mount, Christian Eriksen and Victor Lindelof have also been laid low recently, while Jadon Sancho remains banished from the first team.

Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw went off through injury against Bayern and the former has joined the lengthy list of absentees, which Anthony Martial remains on through illness.

But Ten Hag provided a positive update on Shaw after his hamstring complaint and says Marcus Rashford is back from the illness that ruled him out of Tuesday’s loss.

“Harry will not be available for the coming games but we don’t think it is a long-term issue,” the United boss, who would not reveal his captain for Anfield, said.

“Luke Shaw trained this morning, so we think he’s available for Sunday. Marcus Rashford is available, Martial not.”

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