Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he can fully relate to Donny van de Beek's unhappiness after being used sparingly during his time at Old Trafford.

The Netherlands midfielder has made nine starts for United since arriving from Ajax for a reported £40million in the close season, just two of those coming in the Premier League.

He has not featured at all in United's last three games since the 1-0 FA Cup win over Watford on January 9, but he will play a part in Sunday's fourth-round tie against Liverpool.

Solskjaer himself found regular starts hard to come by during his playing days at the club under Alex Ferguson and has praised Van de Beek for remaining professional.

"I wouldn't say that Donny is happy," he said. "Of course, he wants to play more, but he gets about his job in the right manner.

"He reminds me a lot about myself, when I first came in, that he understands my difficulties and challenges

"We are doing well and have got players who are playing really well in his position.

"I was the same with Sir Alex. When he left me out I understood and I was happy for the team to win – and Donny is that type of guy."

Van de Beek has made 10 Premier League appearances for United in total and scored his only goal in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace in September.

The 23-year-old has yet to assist a goal and has created just two big chances for his team-mates across those 10 matches.

His average of 50.2 passes per 90 minutes ranks below fellow midfielder Bruno Fernandes (60.17), Paul Pogba (62.02), Fred (62.85) and Nemanja Matic (76.08) but above Scott McTominay (48.37).

Van de Beek ranks higher for dribbles completed (1.43), however, with Pogba (1.75) the only midfielder above him in that metric.

Solskjaer continued: "He knows he is important for us and knows he is going to play many games.

"He will definitely be involved in this game against Liverpool and he might be the deciding factor in the game.

"He trusts his own quality. He is a quietly confident guy who deep down knows he is good enough and is just waiting for his opportunity."

Having been used in a variety of roles in United's midfield, Van de Beek – utilised as a box-to-box threat during his Ajax days – scored 28 goals in total in the Eredivisie. 

Arguably his most impressive form for Ajax came in the 2018-19 Champions League campaign, with his four goals helping the Dutch giants to the semi-finals.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants Manchester United to harness the spirit of the 1999 treble-winning side when they face Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Solskjaer will make changes for the tie of the fourth round at Old Trafford on Sunday after a 2-1 win at Fulham on Wednesday, which put United two points clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Red Devils are still in the hunt for three trophies this season and face an out-of-sorts Liverpool side who are smarting from a shock 1-0 home defeat to Burnley on Thursday.

United dramatically beat the Reds 2-1 at the same stage of the FA Cup 22 years ago courtesy of late goals from Dwight Yorke and Solskjaer, then went on to complete a famous treble.

Solskjaer says dumping the Premier League champions out once again could be a big moment in what he hopes will be a glorious season.

"Of course we can transform a few things from that season. We know that there's tight moments, very fine margins. We know in that season we were close to going out against Liverpool," said the United boss.

"Peter Schmeichel saved a penalty from [Arsenal's] Dennis Bergkamp in the semi-final in injury time. Those moments, I think they gave us the mental advantage, especially in the semi-final.

"But against Liverpool as well in that fourth round, when you get that boost of turning 1-0 down to a 2-1 win against a big team it's massive.

"The FA Cup is a run we've got to enjoy as long as it lasts. We got to the semis last year and we're going to make a few changes but we'll put a team out there that I hope can go through."

Victor Lindelof is available to return from a back injury and Solskjaer will rotate his squad just a week after a drab goalless draw between United and Liverpool at Anfield in the top flight.

"Of course the focus is now on the FA Cup," said Solskjaer. "We know it's a difficult tie, I'm not the best on draws, I think they should try to get someone else in if they want an easy draw."

Solskjaer also said forwards Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani could all feature in the same side at some stage.

He said: "I used to play in a decent team and the gaffer [Alex Ferguson] had four centre-forwards at least to choose from and with the four front men we've got, we have players to choose from who can get us goals in any game, against any opposition.

"I'm very pleased with the ones I've got and we’re working hard to get the relationships with all of them so we can use them in different ways and sometimes maybe all four of them will play."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba is "happy" again after hailing the star midfielder following his match-winning display against Fulham.

Pogba scored the winning goal as United returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday.

Edinson Cavani cancelled out Ademola Lookman's fifth-minute opener with a poacher's finish 16 minutes later in London, where Pogba stepped up for United.

Pogba fired a stunning left-foot effort past Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 65th minute as United extended their unbeaten streak away from home to 17 games in the Premier League – matching the club's longest ever run set back in 1999.

The future of Pogba has dominated headlines since his outspoken agent Mino Raiola claimed the France World Cup winner was not happy in Manchester amid links with former club Juventus, LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain.

But when asked if Pogba is happy again at Old Trafford, Solskjaer told reporters: "I would like to say so yeah, he's enjoying his football, he's happy, he is mentally very happy, physically in very good shape. And we know all about his talents. Today, we decided to play him in midfield, and it was worth it."

Since his return to the club in 2016, no United player has scored more league goals from outside the box than Pogba (six).

"I'm very happy with his performance. You know, sometimes impressed is a strong word, but I know what he can do. And it was all about getting Paul fit, running fit, match fit. And today, he's played in the centre midfield role. He made some good runs into the box as well, he made challenges," said Solskjaer, whose United are two points clear atop the table, though neighbours Manchester City have a game in hand.

"He got an early yellow card, which always is dangerous, but he kept his discipline really well, and he won tackles for us. And he does everything, we know Paul can do more or less everything that's asked of a midfielder. Now he's putting all the elements together the same performances, which is great to see."

Solskjaer also hailed veteran forward Cavani after PSG's all-time leading scorer – who arrived on a free transfer at the start of the season – became the first United player whose first four Premier League goals for the club were all scored away from home.

"He's a centre forward you want in the box, his movement is incredible. It's for everyone to learn from you know. It's almost like I get frustrated at times when he goes wide to put the crosses in because he's the one that you want in there. And sometimes I have to ask him to do less running," Solskjaer added.

"Even in the second half, the header, the great save by Areola. A couple of other times and his movement is spot on. So, he's a type of centre forward we've been looking for and he complements Marcus [Rashford] and Mason [Greenwood] and Anthony [Martial] really well."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a "fantastic" winning goal from Paul Pogba at Fulham but refused to be drawn on Manchester United's chances of winning the Premier League.

United returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage after Manchester City briefly moved to the summit a 2-0 win over Aston Villa earlier on Wednesday.

Ademola Lookman capitalised on poor United defending to give Fulham an early lead, but Edinson Cavani equalised in the first half and Pogba won it with a stunning left-foot strike after 65 minutes.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in 17 away games in the top flight, matching their longest ever run set back in 1999, and lead City by two points, although their neighbours have a game in hand.

United again showed their character to mount a fightback and have won seven Premier League games this season after going behind.

Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I think we started slow but after their goal I felt we played well. We needed to wake up and after that we played really well.

"We don't do offsides really, we should follow the run. We had not woken up but good reaction."

Pogba has scored the winner in two of United's last three games after coming in from the cold and Solskjaer is pleased with the progress the France midfielder has made.

"It was a fantastic goal by Paul and we had some other chances to finish the game but of course when it is just one goal and the players they put on it is going to be like heart in your mouth," said the United boss.

"He [Pogba] has really come on. He is fit, he can play in midfield and he can play wide. That is key with Paul, getting him match fit and running fit and he is at the moment. He played very well."

It is now 13 Premier League games without defeat for United, but Solskjaer again fended off talk of a title challenge.

The former United and Norway striker said: "It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league.

"But we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time. It is such an unpredictable season."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted the Premier League giants only sign players that fit the club's long-term strategy amid ongoing transfer links.

With the January transfer window open, United have once again been linked to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba and Lens defender Facundo Medina among others.

During the previous window, United signed 33-year-old forward Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri and teenage sensation Amad Diallo – who arrived from Atalanta this month.

As United eye their first Premier League title since 2012-13, Solskjaer discussed the club's transfer plans.

"Whenever you get the chance to speak to players or learn about their personalities, what you get through a chat when you've been put together, that is very important," Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday's trip to Fulham.

"And of course, we've been here, we know where we want to get to at Manchester United. Do you want to be part of bringing us back to the successful times - that's always been one of the topics that we've discussed.

"We're not here for a quick fix, we have players who have a long-term role to play. Even if it's, say Edinson [Cavani] coming in at the age of 33, he still has a part-long term by who he is, and how he comes in and what he does to the club and to the players."

United are second in the Premier League but can reclaim their two-point lead atop the table with victory at Fulham midweek.

Solskjaer's United are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League away games. In their top-flight history, they have only once gone longer without defeat on the road – 17 matches between December 1998-September 1999.

Luke Shaw has played a key role for United following his man-of-the-match display in Sunday's 0-0 draw against defending champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Form and fitness have hampered Shaw since his big-money arrival from Southampton in 2014, but the 25-year-old full-back is returning to his consistent best.

"Luke has immense quality," Solskjaer said. "He has a very good technique, good quality. You see against Liverpool, he takes the ball and drives forward, that is something that I have pushed him more to do because we know he can do it.

"It is generally down to the boy himself, mentally he is very good at the moment, he has become a dad. He is physically very good, his fitness is so much better and he keeps beating his high-intensity stats and his total distance stats. He has been consistently up there with what a full-back should be doing.

"When you have the talent of Luke, when that fitness and the mental bit is sorted then you are always going to get good performances."

United are the only side without an away defeat in the Premier League this season (W7 D2), while the Red Devils have picked up the most points (23) and scored the most goals (22) on the road in the competition this term.

The Manchester team are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against promoted sides (W6 D2), scoring 25 goals in those games since a 2-0 loss to Cardiff City in May 2019.

Meanwhile, of all clubs to have played more than two Premier League games on Wednesdays, United have the highest win rate (62 per cent - 70/113).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United's rapid climb up the Premier League table has shown why the Old Trafford board stuck with him.

United will go top of the standings again if they beat Fulham on Wednesday, in the game that will see the Red Devils reach the 19-game halfway mark in the 2020-21 campaign.

Despite relinquishing top spot to Leicester City after the Foxes beat Chelsea on Tuesday, United have played one fewer game and can go two points clear of Brendan Rodgers' men.

The transformation in United's Premier League fortunes has been astounding since early November, with a 3-1 win at Everton coming at a time when Solskjaer was looking on rocky ground.

Although a Champions League exit in December was a jolt, on the domestic front they have taken 30 points from the last 36 available in the Premier League to hurtle up the table, and United have been rewarded for the faith they have shown the manager.

They had stood a lowly 15th after six games, with only seven points, and Solskjaer said on Tuesday: "Hopefully I have proven that I can help the club going forwards.

"Personally I have felt very strong backing and leadership from the club, which has made the journey that we've been on - ups and downs - clear.

"The position we are in now is due to loads of hard work by everyone. We are halfway through the season and we are up there."

Solskjaer, given his 11-year playing career with United, knows that sustained excellence is demanded at the club, and he accepts that the hard work is just beginning.

United have shown they can hit a hot streak and barrel their way up the league, but now comes the challenge of showing they belong in the upper reaches.

The size of the club is not in doubt, but the team have only exceeded 70 points once in a Premier League season since Alex Ferguson left almost eight years ago.

"It is not about getting there once," said Solskjaer, whose United have not won the Premier League since 2012-13. "That is the easy bit, to go up the league.

"Staying there is the challenge and that is the challenge we are looking forward to - focusing on every game and building this squad and hope that in the end we can lift the trophy. That is when you can talk about moving the team where it should be."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Amad Diallo has made a "quite remarkable" impact in training and could be given his Manchester United debut soon.

The 18-year-old completed his move to United from Atalanta, which was originally agreed in October, this month.

Diallo did not start a competitive game for Atalanta, only making a handful of substitute appearances.

But Solskjaer has been impressed by how the winger has adapted so far and suggested he could be on the pitch for the first team within a month.

Solskjaer has previously praised Diallo's training performances and went even further ahead of Wednesday's game with Fulham.

"Very good [first impression]," Solskjaer said about Diallo.

"He can handle the ball, he has enjoyed training, makes a difference in training, which is quite remarkable at his age.

"Some adjustment to settle into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League but I can't see it's too long until he’s in the squad."

Asked if it might be four or five weeks until his debut, Solskjaer added: "It might be quicker than that, he has definitely settled down well.

"Players have taken to him, he is a good character, polite, smiley boy who works really hard.

"He is doing his sessions, getting used to us, there is always a period of adjustment needed but he is settling in well."

United boss Solskjaer expects one or two more players to depart before the January transfer window concludes.

He said: "I don't want to go into individuals but we can probably allow one or two more to go out.

"But the strength we have is we have a deep squad, strength in depth, we don't want to give our advantage away by easing off on our players, I can't give you a better answer than that."

Defenders Brandon Williams and Phil Jones were the only players who did not train ahead of the Fulham clash.

Solskjaer added United were still waiting for their latest batch of coronavirus results 30 hours after undergoing tests and hoped to receive them soon.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no concerns over Bruno Fernandes' form or fitness ahead of the clash with Fulham.

Fernandes has not registered a goal or an assist in his last three appearances for the Premier League leaders.

He showed his frustration when being substituted late in Sunday's 0-0 draw against champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Much has been made of United's reliance on Fernandes and how much of a risk it would be to rest him.

And Solskjaer has no plans to do that ahead of the away game with Fulham on Wednesday, having launched a staunch defence of the Portugal international's recent displays.

"His form is very good, he was just voted [Premier League] Player of the Month," Solskjaer said about Fernandes.

"He is not tired, no, no chance. 

"He is one of the players that runs and covers the ground every single game, very good at recovering, very good at recharging his batteries.

"If he scored his free-kick [against Liverpool], if it just had a little air on the ball when Luke [Shaw] put the cross in, he would have been lauded as best player in Premier League again.

"Since he came in, he's been absolutely immense. He is not tired and if I ask him he will say there is no chance he is tired."

Fernandes only completed 11 of his 20 passes in the Liverpool half on Sunday and crafted a solitary chance, but Solskjaer believes such performances come with the territory when a player shoulders so much of a team's creative burden.

"He is expected to create goals, score goals and sometimes the margins are against him," he said. "That free-kick, thought that was in, some passes he plays are marginal, on or offside.

"So he's always on the verge of creating something even when he loses the ball.

"That's the position I want him in and what he's been told to do, he has to be the creative one. I want him to play the passes he sees."

United are unbeaten in their past 11 league games against Fulham and have scored 29 goals in the process.

The have also not lost any of their previous eight Premier League matches against promoted sides, winning six of them.

But Solskjaer is wary of a team who have improved since a miserable start to the season, drawing with Liverpool and Tottenham recently as well as running Chelsea close with 10 men.

"I think they have had a good turnaround from a slow start," he said.

"They have made some very good signings towards the end of the window and they are very well coached. 

"Scott [Parker] and the team trust their own organisation, team shape, and it is one of the hardest teams to break down.

"It's hard enough to go to Craven Cottage anyway but at the moment they are really well structured on and off the ball, quick strong players defensively and players that can make the difference."

United are the only side without an away defeat in the Premier League so far this season, having won seven of their nine games. 

Solskjaer's men have the most points (23) and have scored the most goals (22) on the road in the top flight this term.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer followed the Jose Mourinho method of parking the bus in Manchester United's draw with Liverpool, according to Paul Ince. 

The Red Devils maintained their place at the top of the Premier League, three points ahead of the champions in fourth, with a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield on Sunday. 

Despite enjoying just 34 per cent of the possession, United limited Liverpool to very few opportunities as the Reds went three league games without scoring for the first time since March 2005. 

In fact, United should perhaps have snatched victory in the second half, with Alisson making good saves to deny Bruno Fernandes and a clear-cut Paul Pogba chance. 

Solskjaer stated after the match that he did not feel his side deserved to win, though, arguing they should have done more throughout to threaten a centre-back partnership of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson. 

And Ince, who played for both teams, claimed Solskjaer deployed the same tactics that saw Mourinho "absolutely slaughtered" during his time as manager at Old Trafford.

"You could see the game plan with Manchester United, you saw it from the first whistle – they defended very, very deep," Ince told talkSPORT 2. "I thought United were very poor in the first half. 

"I remember a few years ago when Mourinho took United to Anfield, he parked the bus and got absolutely slaughtered for it. That's exactly what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did in the first half. 

“We knew they were going to defend and rely on their quick players like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to counter-attack Liverpool. But I've played in Man United teams… you don't go to Anfield to defend, especially at a time where they've got two of their best midfield players playing at centre-half and they haven't scored in the last two games. 

"I wanted to see them have a go at Liverpool because they were there for the taking. This was an opportunity for Manchester United to go there and show what they were all about, but they just sat deep and it disappoints me."

WERE UNITED OVER-CAUTIOUS?

Solskjaer admitted he was unhappy with his side's first-half display and it was certainly not an enterprising one. 

United had just one shot in the first half, a Bruno Fernandes free-kick that went narrowly wide, while Liverpool attempted nine. It was the first time since December 2019 that the Red Devils failed to hit the target before the interval in a league game. 

Part of the problem, Solskjaer said, was an eagerness to release striker Rashford at the wrong moments. The England international was caught offside four times in the first half, more than he ever had in a complete league game before. 

Still, the leaders were a little more adventurous after the break. They had seven shots to Liverpool's eight and finished the game with four on target, one more than the home side, with Pogba's chance the best of the contest. The expected goals tally for each side was a little over one.

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES

Ince's frustration seemed to be that United were no better on Sunday than they were in December 2018, when a one-sided 3-1 defeat at Anfield spelled the end of Mourinho's time in charge.

They were certainly happy to give up the ball. United ended this most recent game with 34 per cent of the possession, their lowest figure in a league game at Anfield under Solskjaer and both slightly down from Mourinho's final visit. 

And yet, United had a far greater degree of control on the game than in their previous two trips to their bitter rivals. 

Their shot count was done by just one on last season's game, which ended 2-0 to Liverpool, and was higher than in any of their visits to Anfield under Mourinho. Similarly, they faced just one more Liverpool shot than last term and a whopping 19 fewer than they did in December 2018. That 3-1 loss also saw United make 41 clearances, eight more than they had to make on Sunday. 

And while Mourinho's final game saw them attempt 59 passes into the final third – much higher than the 35 they managed this time – the majority of those were long balls aimed at alleviating pressure on the defence.

Indeed, United on Sunday attempted 22 passes into the Liverpool box, four more than they managed in Mourinho's last visit to Merseyside, highlighting a greater level of poise about their forward play.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Manchester United missed an opportunity against Liverpool after they played out a 0-0 draw with the champions on Sunday.

Premier League leaders United maintained a three-point advantage over their Anfield hosts after an uneventful encounter, as they stretched their unbeaten away league run to 16 matches.

Liverpool had 66 per cent of the possession and 17 shots to United's eight, but they rarely had visiting goalkeeper David de Gea troubled.

Indeed, United had the best two chances in the second half, with Alisson saving from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to preserve the Reds' unbeaten home record in the top flight which has now reached 68 games.

Solskjaer thought his side did not show enough composure in possession and was disappointed they did not do more to test a makeshift centre-back pairing of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

Asked if United deserved to win, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "No, we didn't, because I don't think we played well enough. We didn't impose ourselves on the game, especially first half.

"I think we grew into the game and at the end, you felt 'yeah, it's here for us to win'. We created two massive chances and two brilliant saves by the keeper.

"We can play better than this – we know that. We can be more composed, have the ball more.

"We had to defend really often and I thought we gave the ball away too often, maybe some moments we missed, when Marcus [Rashford] makes his runs in behind, maybe sometimes we don't pass it every time he runs and sometimes we missed it when he should have had it. [There are] a couple of things to improve on.

"I've got to be honest and say I'm a bit disappointed at the moment. We're playing against a fantastic team and they had more of the possession, but still, you want to go here, you know the injuries they've had lately, you think you can go here and get a result. We didn't, but a point might be okay if we win the next one."

When asked if United should have been braver, Solskjaer replied: "It depends on what you mean with bravery, in team selection or on the ball. I think we could have been better on the ball, been more quality, but I'd probably start with the same team, if that's what you're asking.

"I know we can play better but we're still coming away with a point, which I think shows how far we've come in a year or even six months.

"Of course it's a positive, you take a point, but you want to win every game so you can't be sat or standing here smiling too much. But we go again. We know we can do better than this, which is the big positive."

Pogba's late opening was the best chance of the game, the France midfielder firing straight at Alisson after being set up by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

It was otherwise a strong performance from United's record signing, who attempted more passes in the opposition half (22) than any team-mate and regained possession a joint-high nine times from an unorthodox role on the right wing.

"I think Paul was absolutely brilliant," said Solskjaer. "We knew he had to do a job defensively, block and help us with [Andy] Robertson, and I thought he was excellent and he should have got the goal his performance deserved."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not ruling out further departures from Manchester United before the January transfer window closes.

Defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah joined Bayer Leverkusen on a permanent deal earlier this week and striker Odion Ighalo's loan deal is set to expire at the end of the month.

A number of other fringe players have been linked with the Old Trafford exit, meanwhile, with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo all in need of minutes – the Argentinian pair have been told they can leave.

Daniel James, Brandon Williams and Dean Henderson are others reportedly seeking loan moves to further their development.

And Solskjaer is prepared to sanction more exits in the coming weeks as he attempts to trim his squad.

"You can't really say no because, in football, things just crop up," he told the club's official website.

"There are opportunities that we can't really say no to and, if it's the best for the club and the player, then it's something we'll look at.

"At the moment I can't update you on any of them, I don't really know where any negotiations are [up to]."

Academy product Fosu-Mensah left the club having made just 30 senior appearances since his first-team debut in February 2016.

"We wish Tim all the best - six-and-a-half years I think he was here," Solskjaer said.

"He's an exciting talent and he's got the attributes, but he needs to play.

"When he gets regular game-time I think we'll see him for Netherlands and we'll see how good a player he is."

United are not expected to be especially busy with regards to incomings, though young winger Amad Diallo - signed in October - officially linked up with the squad this week for the first time following the completion of his move from Atalanta.

Despite only just arriving at the club, Solskjaer is seemingly open to the idea of using the 18-year-old in Sunday's huge top-of-the-table Premier League showdown with Liverpool.

"Let him have some time. But whether it is against Liverpool in the league, Liverpool in the FA Cup, this weekend, or in two or three weeks… It is questionable," he told Dagbladet.

"We have a very fresh stable, there are only one or two that are questionable for the weekend. I don't rule out that he is in the squad for the Liverpool match. 

"Things can happen. You see how fast things happen over here in England. Suddenly, a team has six players out with coronavirus. So, you don't know. 

"I don't want to put any time on it, but he is at least in the group, trains with us and can be chosen in the squad."

Jurgen Klopp insists Manchester United can never be considered underdogs despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer making that pre-match claim.

United boss Solskjaer takes his side to Anfield on Sunday with a surprise three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

The last time they sat top at this stage of the season was in Alex Ferguson's final year at the club.

Amid his opponents' impressive 11-match unbeaten run in the top flight, Liverpool manager Klopp was surprised to see Solskjaer suggest a United win would represent a "shock" and an "upset".

"I have been five years in England and United was never an underdog," said Klopp. "They cannot be. It is just like it is.

"They are always a good team, always great players, always really good managers and coaches. It was always there and now they are top of the table. That is how it is.

"They cannot be underdogs."

Champions Liverpool have failed to win their past three league matches since thrashing Crystal Palace 7-0 a month ago.

But Klopp is confident they are over their slump as the chance to return to the summit presents itself, while he also replied to another Solskjaer remark that caught his attention.

He continued: "I'm really looking forward to this game, to be honest. I know Ole said that this is the best moment to play against Liverpool - yeah? Let's see!

"We are now in a place where we want to be. We know what we have to do and what went wrong. We want to change. Now, we have to put that in place on the pitch. That is the situation.

"These boys did not go for an excuse in one second that I was here. Not for one second. But that does not mean things cannot go wrong.

"Obviously we did not do outstandingly well since mid-November. But who cares? We still have 33 points.

"We have learned a lot from this season. The circumstances, dealing with the situation. It is not because of the boys' attitude. It's just because it didn't work out.

"Still, we have scored the most goals in the league, which is absolutely crazy.

"We just had to step a little bit back, work on the basics and get strong – as strong as we can be again. That's what we did. That is what we will do. I think that can work."

Returning his focus to United, Klopp added: "Usually they change system against us. 

"They played 10 times with four at the back and against RB Leipzig they played with five at the back, so maybe they will change that.

"Those are things we have to think about - not who is the outsider. It is Liverpool versus United and that in itself is a massive game.

"Wherever I would be in the world I would watch it definitely. This is the game!"

Manchester United have been so reliant on "fantastic" Bruno Fernandes that it can lead to inconsistent results and performances, according to John Barnes.

Fernandes has made an incredible impact for United since signing from Sporting CP a year ago and was on Friday named Premier League Player of the Month for a fourth time.

That was the first occasion any player has won the award four times in a single calendar year.

Fernandes will again be central to United's chances as they travel to Anfield to face champions Liverpool on Sunday holding a surprise three-point lead at the top of the table.

Liverpool great Barnes believes similarities can be drawn to the Reds side which ran through Philippe Coutinho and believes having one star dominating the ball does not always lead to the best results.

Barnes also feels there are signs United are adapting in their ongoing 11-game unbeaten run in the Premier League but believes the presence of Fernandes can still detract from other stars like Paul Pogba.

His views came after being asked whether Fernandes' signing was similar to that of Liverpool landing defender Virgil van Dijk.

"They have done it in a different way," Barnes said to Stats Perform News.

"Fernandes has come and he has dominated the game – Virgil doesn't dominate the game, doesn't dominate the midfield players or the front three, he doesn't want the ball all the time.

"He's not the focal point of the way we play, he calms them down psychologically but he isn't, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to do everything'.

"That's not what Virgil does, he gives enough sense of security, whereas that is what Fernandes does. 

"I suppose that probably adds to the inconsistency [for United]. It's a bit like when Coutinho was at Liverpool, when you have a player who's going to be a number 10, or a ball player who dominates.

"All the attacking impetus of the team - the ball has to go through him all the time. It takes away from the other players - maybe other players feel 'Every time we get the ball, we have to look for Fernandes'.

"Then what's going to happen to Pogba, [Anthony] Martial, [Marcus] Rashford and all these other players who also want to be the main player.

"So he does it in a different way and in many respects, I think that has probably added to the inconsistency of Man United because when he doesn't do it, or when he's not playing, United do miss him. 

"They miss him physically in terms of what he actually gives them. Whereas Liverpool miss Van Dijk psychologically. 

"The way Manchester United physically play is really dictated to by Fernandes. 

"Sometimes it really detracts from Pogba because Pogba wants to do that, and then you have got Martial and all the players who also want to get involved in that."

Barnes believes if Barcelona's Coutinho was to return to Liverpool it would not necessarily improve the team, despite his quality.

He added: "I'd liken it to Coutinho coming back which people talk about.

"Coutinho would be fantastic - the team wouldn't, because it will all be about him being the main player, getting man of the match and people saying he's the reason why we're winning because of the way he plays. 

"Fernandes is a fantastic player. And I think of late, if you look at him, I think he's become much more of a team player than he was early on. 

"That's probably helped him at Manchester United because you can see Pogba, you can see Rashford and Martial.

"In his first 13, 14 games, it was all about him [Fernandes], which meant that he was playing well, but Man United were inconsistent. So maybe they have addressed that."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists a Manchester United win at Liverpool on Sunday would be a "shock" despite his team going into the match ahead of the Reds at the Premier League summit.

United and Liverpool have not faced each other as the Premier League's top two since April 1997. While Tottenham and Leicester City could potentially move above Jurgen Klopp's men before they clash at Anfield, it still highlights how rare it has been for both clubs to be fighting near the summit at the same time.

Liverpool were the last team to inflict an away defeat on United in the Premier League, as they emerged 2-0 victors in January last year - the Red Devils have since gone 15 unbeaten on the road, drawing just twice.

At that point, Liverpool moved 30 points clear of United in the league, but this time around require a victory to just go level with them.

But for all the positivity and momentum sweeping through United, Solskjaer is remaining reserved and realistic, putting the pressure back on Liverpool as he is adamant an away win would be an upset given the fact the Reds have not lost in their past 67 home league games, a run that stretches back to April 2017.

"The next one is always the biggest, most important," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if this was the biggest game of his managerial career.

"Being of course where we are in the league, that gives us more confidence, it's a sign, indication of where we're at.

"But it's a game versus the champions, they've an amazing record at Anfield, not lost there in the league for many years, so it's a great test for us. Can we go there and cause an upset?"

Solskjaer was pressed on that assertion again soon after, with the Norwegian asked if it could really be considered a shock if a United side top of the league beat Liverpool.

"If you look at the last few seasons, it would be an upset, it would be a shock," he insisted.

"I think our position at the moment is a product of all the hard work we have done in the training ground, what the players are putting down every single day.

"We probably deserve to be where we are at the moment, but I don't think many would have thought of another word [other than upset] for us beating Liverpool at Anfield if you go six weeks back. But we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can cause an upset."

Solskjaer also addressed the gulf in points between the sides after their previous meeting, suggesting it was an unfair reflection of the difference between the two.

However, he believes his side is far better equipped 12 months on.

"Of course, we're a much better side now than a year ago but then we lost that game to a [Virgil] van Dijk header from a corner and counter-attack at the last kick of the game from our corner," he said.

"So, I don't think we were a million miles away from them then either, I think that's a misperception that people said that. We did have some moments in that game ourselves.

"Of course, the league position shows we are competitive, we are up there with six, seven or eight other teams, it's a tighter season this year. The last few years there have been two teams running away with it by the end of October, now at least we are in it, so we're halfway."

John Barnes has cast doubt on whether Manchester United can sustain the form that has taken them to the Premier League summit ahead of Sunday's huge clash with Liverpool.

The Anfield battle between the long-time rivals gives United an opportunity to pull six points clear of Jurgen Klopp's men, which is a scenario few envisaged even a matter of weeks ago.

Nine wins and two draws in 11 games means United have soared from a lowly standing to the top of the table, yet Liverpool legend Barnes believes one setback could trigger a slide.

He compared Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team to Mikel Arteta's inconsistent Arsenal, and expressed confidence it will be Manchester City and Liverpool who finish the season as the top two in England.

"I think it's too early to say for Manchester United," Barnes told Stats Perform News.

"Because of course, remember when Ole first came after 13 games, they felt that everything was okay. Then they went through a period. And of course, they're very similar now, whereby they're being inconsistent, as much as inconsistency can be being top of the league, with going out of the Champions League.

"But I think that they're showing a resilience that even if they don't play well, they can get results, which is the sign of championship contenders.

"But very much like if you look at Arsenal, and winning one or two games and all of a sudden everything's rosy for Mikel Arteta, lose one or two games and everything will be all doom and gloom.

"I think Manchester United are similar. I still see Man City as our biggest challengers for the title, I still think us and Man City will be first and second.

"Man United are in a good moment now. But will that harmony continue, knowing that one or two bad performances or defeats, well then the old questions about Ole again, the old questions about [Paul] Pogba?

"You need to get rid of all of those of uncertainties if you really want to push for the league, but at the moment, they're doing really well."

Barnes added: "We know what we're going to get from Liverpool. But the intangible is we don't know what we're going to get from Man United."

Sunday's game will be Klopp's 200th Premier League match as Liverpool manager, and Barnes says he has "improved them beyond measure", even if the recent dip in form has cast some doubt over their prospects of back-to-back titles.

Two points from a possible nine since Christmas has been a worrying twist in Liverpool's campaign.

Barnes said: "We're going through a phase now but we'll come out of it. We were top of the league until Man United went above us. So if this is what's being called having a blip, whereby we can go back top of the league if we beat Manchester United, long may this continue.

"I think we've just become so spoiled and expecting Liverpool to be scoring every weekend, beating everybody 5-0, that when they don't, everyone sees that as a bit of an issue."

The goals have dried up in the league since a 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace on December 19, with the front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino looking to sharpen up their form.

"I have no fears that those three players will start to score goals," Barnes said. "And we'll be where we should be in the coming weeks and months."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.