In recent years, when Liverpool have prepared to face off against arch-rivals Manchester United, the Reds have typically gone into the match ahead in the league table. That will not be the case when the sides kickoff at Anfield later today. United currently sit in third and have a ten-point edge over LFC.
It will be a hugely important match for both sides as Liverpool look to continue moving up the table in hopes they can edge into the Champions League places. United, meanwhile need to keep winning if they have any hopes of making up the 14-point gap between themselves and Arsenal at the top of the table.
Ahead of the match, Liverpool forward Diogo Jota commented on the importance of the points to both sides in their quests to catch the frontrunners.
“If they (United) really believe they can win the Premier League then losing points isn’t really an option,” Jota said. “It will be a hard knock for them, but they are still involved in a lot and they have had a really tremendous season after a shaky start.
“We believe it can be a big game and hopefully we can win. It will be a big one, for sure. If we win it will give everyone a bit more respect for our momentum - and that’s what we will try to do. It is like one of the biggest games in the Premier League, especially for the fans.
“And it comes at the right moment for us - if you can say that in this season. We are ready to give it a go but it won’t be easy at all.”
Jota recently returned to the lineup after nearly four months on the sidelines courtesy of a calf injury. The Portuguese forward has now made five appearances since his return, and he finally got his first goal involvement with an assist in his last outing. He spoke a bit about the difficulty of getting back into match shape after such a long time out of the lineup and praised manager Jürgen Klopp for helping keep his confidence up despite the slow return to form.
“Even when I was injured, he (Klopp) is the kind of manager who gives you confidence and belief,” Jota said of the German manager. “I know he trusts me and I have tried to deliver on the pitch.”
“It has not been easy being out for so long and expecting to get my rhythm back. Against Wolves I was able to get an assist. That is what the attacking players want - to get involved in goals.”
Now that he’s back and feeling more like himself, Jota is fully focused on helping his team salvage what has been a disappointing season. While fourth place wasn’t what the Reds were shooting for before the season began, that has to be their goal now, and Jota believes it’s one they can achieve.
“Of course, we can finish in fourth place. It’s not something that we would have wished for at the beginning of the season, but it’s more realistic now and the thing we can fight for.”