Soccer-Liverpool prove they have bigger fish to fry than ailing United


By Martyn Herman

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - There was no great show of emotion as Brendan Rodgers offered crestfallen David Moyes a conciliatory hand and hurried down the tunnel at Old Trafford on Sunday following Liverpool's 3-0 demolition of Manchester United in the Premier League.

For much of the last two decades any Liverpool success at United, and there has not been much, was greeted with cup-final like fervour.

Sunday's romp, however, was almost predictable and while Liverpool's fans will enjoy gloating for a few days, they will already be planning far larger celebrations in May.

Quite simply, Liverpool have bigger fish to fry this season than a United side going through a painful period of transition.

Liverpool's progress under astute young manager Rodgers, who arrived to replace Anfield great Kenny Dalglish in 2012, was erratic last season when they finished 28 points behind champions United in seventh place.

There were signs that something was brewing on Merseyside, though, especially with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge starting to develop an understanding up front.

This season, with only a few tweaks to the squad, Liverpool have evolved into a team that now looks capable of bringing the league title back to Anfield for the first time since 1990.

They are 14 points clear of United, who now look in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League gravy train next season, but more importantly they are on the shoulder of Premier League leaders Chelsea, four points behind with a game in hand.

Five consecutive league wins is the kind of sequence Liverpool were once noted for when winter turned to spring and though Manchester City are third, two points behind Liverpool, both City and Chelsea are still to visit Anfield.

"We won't get carried away", Rodgers said after only Liverpool's second win at Old Trafford in nearly 10 years.


"It is a wonderful result and our confidence is high at the moment but our only focus is on the next game.

"If we can continue to play at the same intensity, we will continue to win games."

The form of Suarez, who could haunt England this summer in the World Cup, has been key to Liverpool's resurgence this season, although Sturridge's impact is almost as important.

Uruguayan Suarez is breaking new ground for striking prowess in the Premier League having scored 25 goals in 24 games Since returning from a lengthy ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic towards the end of last season.

No player has ever had a ratio of a goal per game in the history of the Premier League while between them Suarez and Sturridge have scored 43 of Liverpool's 76 league-leading goals this season.

They were simply too hot for United's lumbering defenders to handle on Sunday with Sturridge wasting an early chance after being played through by Jordan Henderson.

Suarez's trickery earned the first of three Liverpool penalties, two of which were converted by skipper Steven Gerrard, while Sturridge's speed forced Nemanja Vidic into a lunging tackle that earned him a red card.

Gerrard wasted the chance to claim a first-ever Premier League hat-trick but the livewire Suarez twisted the knife further into United with a late third.

It could have been far worse for United and although two of the three goals came from the penalty spot, Rodgers said that demonstrated his side's attacking instincts.

"Our dominance in the match was clear," Rodgers said.

"We had confidence and belief coming here that we could get a result. We could arguably have scored five or six and that is testament to the quality of the players.

"We are a very aggressive team. I was very similar at Swansea with my players, we got a lot of penalties with the team there and it is the same at Liverpool."

Momentum, as United know, is a priceless commodity in the title run-ins and Liverpool, with eight wins and two draws from their last 10 games, are now going to take some stopping. (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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