LONDON • Manchester United will approach tomorrow's high-profile English Premier League meeting with bitter rivals Liverpool as they would any other match, manager Jose Mourinho has said.
United have made a strong start to the season and are second in the table behind Manchester City on goal difference. They have scored 21 goals and let in only two to sit on 19 points.
Ahead of a tricky test at Anfield against seventh-placed Liverpool, who have struggled to plug leaks in defence but have shown plenty of attacking intent, Mourinho played down the importance of the clash at this stage in the season.
"When you are in a big club, when you are a big player, when you are a big manager, every game is important," Mourinho was quoted by the club website (www.manutd.com) on Wednesday as saying in TV interviews with Sky Sports.
"You cannot look at some matches as Cup finals and other matches differently. For me, every match is a Cup final.
"It's three points, not four. If we are at a moment in a season where the duel between the two teams ensures the result will mean more than three points, then yes.
"Sometimes a draw or even to lose by a certain goal difference is important. In this case, it is not important. It's just a three-point match. That's the way I approach it."
THEY'RE ALL IMPORTANT
For me, every match is a Cup final.
JOSE MOURINHO, who says he is not viewing the visit to Anfield any differently.
Mourinho has a good record against Liverpool and won his first trophy in English football by beating the Merseyside club to win the League Cup with Chelsea in 2005.
He has suffered some painful lows, however, against the Reds including Champions League semi-final defeats in 2005 and 2007.
FORM GUIDE FAVOURS UNITED
0 Liverpool's wins over Manchester United in their last six meetings.
Liverpool's form has been less impressive of late and they are seven points off the searing pace being set by the two Manchester rivals.
The result tomorrow could also depend on which of their globe-trotting squads can shake off the effects of international duty.
United's best points tally after the first eight games of a Premier League season awaits, if they beat Liverpool tomorrow.
According to Sky Sports, their players clocked up a total of 223,651km taking part in World Cup qualifiers since the last Premier League action.
Both clubs will also be without key players who were injured during the international matches.
United will miss midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who injured his knee playing for Belgium, while Liverpool will not have the services of forward Sadio Mane, who is out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury.
Fellaini's compatriot Romelu Lukaku - the Premier League's leading scorer with seven goals - is also a doubt for United with an ankle injury, despite coming on as a 66th-minute substitute in Belgium's 4-0 defeat of Cyprus on Tuesday.
There was good news for Mourinho, however, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to return to training next month, raising hopes that the Swedish striker will be available for selection before the end of the year.
Ibrahimovic, 36, has impressed United's medical staff with the speed of his recovery from the serious injury to his right knee that he suffered in the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht in April.
He is due to begin full training at United's training base in Carrington at the start of next month.
Mourinho added that he was happy to travel to Anfield without any added pressure or emotion and looked forward to the clash.
"Do I like to go to Anfield? Yes, I love it. Do I like to play against Liverpool? Yes. I like amazing stadiums, the best opponents but the preparation is not different," he insisted.
REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON