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Liverpool-Manchester United Preview

By TOM BENNETT

STATS European Football Writer

(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - The two most decorated clubs in English football resume their rivalry on Sunday afternoon, when Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford.

United's Premier League triumph two seasons ago took them above Liverpool to the top of the all-time list of league winners with 19 titles, and the Red Devils have had the better of their recent meetings with Liverpool too - winning seven of the last eight meetings at Old Trafford.

Since finishing second behind United in 2009, Liverpool's performances have dipped, with the club failing to finish in the top five league positions in any of the last three seasons. However, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is still wary of Liverpool, despite their recent fall from grace.

"There will always be a certain build-up to a Manchester United-Liverpool game, simply because of the history between the two clubs," said Ferguson. "It is Liverpool. A derby game. That never changes. It is always an immensely important game.

"It is intense and emotional. Everything you can think of in a derby game will probably be there on Sunday."

Sunday's match will also act as a showcase for the Premier League's top two goal-scorers - Luis Suarez (15) and Robin van Persie (16). United's top-scorer has hit the ground running following his move from Arsenal in the summer, and is eyeing a win on Sunday to help stretch his new team's seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

"The lead is only seven points, you have to look at it game-by-game" said van Persie, who has five goals in his last five career appearances against Liverpool. "We still have to go through the entire second half of the league and almost play everyone one more time. Nothing is decided, it will be tough.

"This weekend we have Liverpool and it's a massive game for us. It's a bit like a derby, the teams being so close to each other. They are a great team and, on their day, they can make it a really hard game for us. They have a couple of world-class players and we have to look at them, study them, and then do our own bit."

Sunday's visitors have enjoyed a hit-and-miss season under new manager Brendan Rodgers. Just eight wins from 21 games is a disappointing record for a club of Liverpool's stature, but they remained just seven points off the Champions League spots going into the latest round of matches, and have been able to blood a new crop of young, technically gifted players into a more cultured football style. One of those youngsters is 19-year-old Andre Wisdom, who penned a new long-term contract with the club this week, and the defender is hopeful of making an appearance in Liverpool's biggest away game of the league season.

"It would mean a lot if the manager puts me in the side," said Wisdom. "This is a massive game but you have to prepare for every match the same.

"United have some great players, but so do we and our form has been good. We'll go there with the right attitude and give it our all."

Phil Jones is a doubt for United with a knock, while Wayne Rooney (knee) has been ruled out. Liverpool have doubts over Fabio Borini (ankle), but Jose Enrique (hamstring) and Martin Kelly (knee) remain sidelined.

Manchester United (17-1-3) came from behind against Liverpool (8-7-6) to win 2-1 when the teams met at Anfield back in September. Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in the first half, while all three goals came after the break - Rafael and Robin van Persie scoring for United after Steven Gerrard's opener.

Liverpool have won just 16 times at United in the club's history, losing 43 and drawing 26.

Updated January 11, 2013

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