Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changes his mind on rivals Liverpool and Man City again

Man Utd: Solskjaer previews upcoming Liverpool clash

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says this Sunday’s opponents Liverpool are “the best team in the country by a mile over the last year and a half” – but he hasn’t always held that opinion of the Premier League champions.

United take on Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday (4.30pm kick-off) looking to become the first team in four years to win a league game on Merseyside against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

The Red Devils, who sit atop the table three points ahead of Liverpool, have not won at Anfield since January 2016 and have only won one of the last 10 meetings with their bitter rivals across all competitions since then, coming out on top at Old Trafford in March 2018.

This is United’s first visit to Liverpool since they were crowned the champions of England for the first time since 1990 and Solskjaer insists they are “champions by right”.

He added: “We’re looking forward to it and it’s a great test of where we’re at against a good team.”

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Yet Solskjaer naming Liverpool as England’s best team over the past 18 months is different to the comments he has made previously.

Speaking back in December 2019, Solskjaer said ahead of facing Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-finals: “We really respect them and they are still the best team in England.”

United lost the first leg 3-1 before winning the return tie 1-0 to miss out on a trip to Wembley as City won the cup competition for a third straight season.

Little over a month later, United travelled to Liverpool where they lost 2-0 thanks to Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah’s goals at Anfield.

After Salah’s late effort confirmed three points, the fans inside Liverpool’s home ground burst into an impromptu course of ‘we’re gonna win the league!’ for the first time as they opened up a 16-point lead at the top.

And post-match, Solskjaer backtracked on his comments about City and said: “Today is not about the transfer window. It can’t be. We’ve just had a game against the best team in the country at the moment.”

After Liverpool won the league in June, Solskjaer paid credit to Liverpool and declared: “Any team that wins the championship and a Premier League deserves it and deserves credit. It’s a hard league to win.

“Well done to Jurgen and his players. Every time you see anyone else lift the trophy it hurts. We want to get back to winning ways and that’s our challenge.”

But speaking earlier this month, Solskjaer once again named City as the best team in the league, although Liverpool sat at the summit of the table at the time.

Speaking after City beat United 2-0 at Old Trafford in another Carabao Cup semi-final clash, Solskjaer said: “Sometimes you meet good teams in the semis. We met, at the moment, City are probably the best team in England.”

At that time, Liverpool were first in the league, ahead of second-placed United who boasted a game in hand courtesy of a superior goal difference, while City were four points back having played two games less.

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United have now played their extra match, beating Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor on Tuesday to return to the top for the first time in eight years.

And yet discussing this weekend’s opponents just a week on from his praise of Pep Guardiola’s side, who won back-to-back titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Solskjaer has again labelled Liverpool as England’s top team.

“At the moment we are where we are, we go there knowing we’re playing the best team in the country by a mile over the last year and a half, they are champions by right,” he said.

That’s despite him having twice called City the best team in that 18-month time frame – though to Solskjaer’s credit he isn’t bitter about paying credit to United’s two biggest rivals.

Heading into Liverpool vs United, City sit one point behind the Merseyside outfit and four off of the Red Devils having played a game less.

It looks likely to be the trio who duke it out to be named the best team in the Premier League in May, although Tottenham and Chelsea are not completely out of contention, and right now it’s tough to call as to who will win the battle.

Liverpool and United will both be looking to prove it will be them on Sunday.

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