The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ have all now distanced themselves from the possibility of joining any new European Super League.

Arsenal became the last of the clubs who joined the original Super League in 2021 to confirm their position on Friday.

The Gunners issued a statement saying they will continue in UEFA competitions despite a European Court of Justice ruling which has at least opened the possibility of a club-led tournament to rival the Champions League being launched.

Liverpool have not commented directly since Thursday’s ruling but the PA news agency understands legal consent on the issue of joining new competitions has rested with the recognised supporters’ trust, the Spirit of Shankly (SoS), since the Reds’ withdrawal from the Super League two years ago.

SoS’ statement on Thursday said Liverpool’s position had not changed since 2021. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all issued statements on Thursday pledging commitment to UEFA competitions.

The original Super League plan fell apart within 72 hours, as the English clubs withdrew one by one amid fan protests, pressure from the British Government and opposition from UEFA and FIFA.

The company behind the original project, A22, announced details for new “open and meritocratic” men’s and women’s competitions within hours of the ECJ ruling on Thursday morning. In the men’s competition, 64 teams would be involved with 20 places available each year to teams based on their domestic performance.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin mocked the proposals and said the format was “even more closed” than the one put forward in 2021, but A22 founder John Hahn told PA the principles of relegation and promotion were in line with domestic competitions across UEFA’s 55 member associations.

Real Madrid and Barcelona, key supporters of the 2021 project, are on board. Juventus and AC Milan, two of the other 12 involved, have not commented yet but Inter Milan have strongly rejected it, so too Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

The president of Italian champions Napoli, Aurelio De Laurentiis, said his club was ready to hold talks over the new project. Napoli were not part of the 2021 project.

Ceferin said “football was not for sale” at a press conference on Thursday, which significantly featured executives from all the key stakeholder groups – clubs, leagues, players and fans.

Clubs have gained considerable concessions since 2021 – a new Champions League format starting next season featuring more matches, and the scope for even more in the future, and the establishment of a joint venture between clubs and UEFA to control commercial matters linked to the Champions League and other club competitions.

The ruling on Thursday clearly empowers clubs, but in the short term may be the catalyst for further reform in their favour rather than revolution.

Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps has expressed her frustration at untrue speculation regarding her future.

The 30-year-old capped an incredible 2023 by being voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year on Tuesday night.

She helped England reach the World Cup final and saved a penalty in the showpiece match from Jenni Hermoso. The Lionesses were beaten 1-0, but Earps was voted goalkeeper of the tournament, having been named the best in her position in the world for 2022.

She also kept 14 clean sheets as United finished second in the Women’s Super League, but there are question marks surrounding her club future, with Earps out of contract at the end of the season.

She insisted in the afterglow of her BBC success that the time was not quite right to discuss her future, but she has been angered by reports which claimed she wanted to leave United before the start of the season.

“I don’t really want to talk too much about it tonight because I want to celebrate this win, but what I will say is there is a lot of stuff that’s been put out there that isn’t true,” she said.

“I’ve remained quiet for a reason. I feel I’ve behaved really professionally and with a lot of integrity through this whole situation.

“What I will say is that I play with heart and passion in everything I do and I drive standards.

“A lot of stuff that’s been put out isn’t true. I want to say more, but I can’t at this stage and it’s really hard for me to sit quiet when I see a lot of things that are not right. I think it’s an injustice, but I know the appropriate thing to do is focus on my football and see what happens from there.”

Earps has been linked with following her former United team-mate Alessia Russo to Arsenal and also with a move to Barcelona.

Earps’ BBC award also came in the same year where she successfully challenged Nike to produce replicas of her England goalkeeper jersey.

Asked if she thought other brands would now follow suit, she said: “I’d like to think so. I’ve obviously had that commitment from Nike that it will never happen again.

“For me it’s the principle of making people happy and the messaging that was being sent out was really damaging. Now you don’t have that. People can be whatever they want to be.

“Representation and visibility is so important. The fact that young girls and adults – whoever want the shirts – can have access to them. People might be complaining now that there’s not enough, but I’ll absolutely take that complaint over there being none any day of the week.”

Earps’ ascent is all the more incredible given she was considering her international future after being left out of the England team for almost two years before Sarina Wiegman named her in her first squad in September 2021.

“I made my peace with the fact I would never be an England player again,” Earps said.

“That was where it was for me. It was the facts. It took a while for me to come to terms with that. It’s a hard pill to swallow when it’s all you’ve ever dreamed of.

“Sometimes you give it your all and you’re just not quite good enough, but luckily Sarina Wiegman came in and saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

What the papers say

Suitors of Brentford’s in-demand striker Ivan Toney have reportedly been warned they will need to pay at least £100,000,000 for his services. The Sun, citing Talksport, says the Bees would want a nine-figure fee for the 27-year-old. Arsenal and Chelsea are both believed to be considering a move for Toney, who returns from a betting ban next month.

The Manchester Evening News reports Preston are interested in a loan move for Manchester United midfielder Dan Gore. Despite the 19-year-old only making one appearance for the first team, North End bosses are interested in bringing him in to help the club chase a play-off place.

Tottenham are monitoring Genoa centre-back Radu Dragusin, according to The Telegraph. The 21-year-old is expected to cost £26m, should he move in the January transfer window.

And the paper also says Newcastle have opened talks with 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley over signing a long-term deal once he turns 18.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Sergio Reguilon: Bild reports the Tottenham defender – on loan at Manchester United – is wanted by Borussia Dortmund.

Mauro Icardi: Real Madrid are set to make a move for the Galatasaray striker, according to Marca.

Mary Earps hailed the part played by her England and Manchester United team-mates as she secured the 2023 BBC Sports Personality of the Year prize.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper was a key part of the Lionesses side which reached the Women’s World Cup final in the summer and won FIFA’s Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper at the tournament.

Earps saved a penalty from Spain’s Jenni Hermoso in the final, but the Lionesses were unable to add to their 2022 European crown as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Sydney.

At club level she kept 14 clean sheets as United finished second in the Women’s Super League, and she hailed the part her team-mates had played in her achieving this individual accolade.

“I would not be here without my team-mates with the Lionesses and at Manchester United because we’ve achieved some incredible things over the last couple of years,” she said.

“While individual accolades are great, they only come after team success. This is their trophy just as much as mine.”

Former England cricketer Stuart Broad, who retired at the end of the fifth Ashes Test in the summer, was second in the BBC public vote and world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson was third.

But the night belonged to Earps, for whom it was the culmination of a scarcely believable last 12 months.

“(Winning the award) feels pretty great on the back of a couple of big years – 2023 has been wild in ways I never expected, I am really grateful,” she said.

Her international career appeared at a crossroads in 2021 and she acknowledged during the BBC show she felt she had “lost purpose” after losing her place in the England team.

Sarina Wiegman recalled her in the first England squad she named in September of that year after Earps had been out in the cold since November 2019.

“I always committed to myself that anything I would have after that period of time (out of the England team) would be a bonus and it just hasn’t stopped yet,” Earps said.

“I’m just trying to make the most of everything, because when it stops, you miss it.”

Broad announced he was retiring from cricket during the fifth Ashes Test in the summer and bowed out in spectacular fashion. The 37-year-old hit a six off his final ball and took the final wicket as England won the match to level the series, although Australia retained the urn.

Johnson-Thompson claimed the world heptathlon title for the second time in Budapest in the summer after a calf injury wrecked her hopes of Olympic glory in Tokyo in 2021.

Manchester City’s treble-winning campaign was recognised at the BBC awards ceremony on Tuesday night as they won the Team of the Year prize.

Star striker Erling Haaland, who scored 52 goals as the Blues dominated at home and in Europe, won the World Sport Star of the Year award and City manager Pep Guardiola was named coach of the year.

What the papers say

Crystal Palace are interested in a move for Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah this January, with the 24-year-old yet to play under Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Daily Express reports. There is also reportedly interest from Serie A teams and Bayern Munich.

The Daily Mail reports Manchester United are willing to sell Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, Anthony Martial and Casemiro after their director of football John Murtough spent time in Saudi Arabia this month.

However, the Manchester Evening News says Varane is hoping that the club will trigger their one-year contract extension option for him.

Wolves are reportedly looking to sign Nigerian striker Rafiu Durosinmi from Viktoria Plzen for around £7million, despite reportedly being set to report losses of £65million.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Ian Maatsen: Chelsea are reportedly willing to sell the 21-year-old Dutch defender in January, with Manchester City, West Ham, Roma and Napoli among clubs interested in him, 90min says.

Clement Lenglet: The Aston Villa defender’s loan deal from Barcelona could be terminated by the Spanish club as they look to sell the 28-year-old, Football Insider reports.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Manchester United midfielder Donny Van De Beek is set to join Eintracht Frankfurt on loan in January, the PA news agency understands.

The 26-year-old joined from Dutch giants Ajax in 2020 for an initial 39 million euros (£34.1m) but failed to make an impact at Old Trafford.

Not even linking back up with Erik ten Hag – the manager Van De Beek flourished under in Amsterdam – has been able to kickstart a career that looks set to continue elsewhere.

Frankfurt are understood to have provisionally agreed to take the Netherlands international on loan in January, subject to a medical. The deal reportedly includes a 15m euros (£12.9m) option to make the move permanent.

PA understands Van De Beek will remain part of United’s absentee-hit squad and continue training with them until that deal is completed.

The midfielder, whose contract expires in 2025, has made only two appearances this term and 62 in total during an injury-impacted spell with the Red Devils.

Van De Beek spent the second half of the 2021-22 season on loan at Everton and a United exit did not materialise over the summer despite interest from a number of clubs. He was not included in their Champions League squad.

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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