Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do or Die for Liverpool according to Rooney

Wayne Rooney has stoked the fires ahead of Saturday's showdown with Liverpool by claiming a Manchester United victory would send Rafael Benitez's side crashing out of the title race.

The lunchtime Old Trafford clash certainly appears a game the Merseyside club have to win if they are to have a chance of staying in touch with United over the closing stretch of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side currently hold a seven-point cushion over Chelsea and Liverpool, and they have the added bonus of a match in hand on their nearest rivals.

A United win would leave Liverpool 10 points adrift, with only 27 to play for, and, from that position, in need of a miracle.

With United unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League matches, on a winning streak of 11 and having dropped only two points at home all season, Liverpool seemingly face a mountainous task.

United striker and former Evertonian Rooney summed up the situation as he said: "They know, in coming to Old Trafford, it's going to be a difficult game for them.

"They also know they need the three points and I'm sure they'll be up for it - we certainly will be.

"But I think, if we beat them, it will probably end their chances of winning the league."

Both teams go into the mouthwatering encounter on the back of fine wins in the Champions League, even if United were not firing on all cylinders in beating Inter Milan 2-0.

As for Liverpool, they demolished Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield and must now be in the mood to clinch a victory over United that would keep them in the title hunt.

While appreciating Liverpool would be almost out of the picture if United did triumph, centre-back Rio Ferdinand is wise enough to know the fat lady would not quite be singing just yet.

"They've had a good week, getting a great result against Real Madrid," remarked Ferdinand on Liverpool's superb effort against the Spanish champions.

"We're in for a tough game with a great atmosphere, a different entity altogether (compared to Inter), and one we can't wait for.

"Could it end their title chances? Possibly, yeah. But we still have games after that to win. It's the same at this stage of the season all the time.

"People say, 'If you win this game, you win the league', but it just continues until it's mathematically over and one team wins it, and hopefully that will be us.

"If we win, it will obviously make it hard for them but I couldn't care what happens to Liverpool as long as we beat them.

"If we do that and that leads to people thinking they're out of it, then so be it.

"We're there to win games, we're at home and people will be expecting us to get the three points.

"Fingers crossed we can go out there, do a good job and give a good account of ourselves."

As United continue their assault on the quintuple, all eyes will not only be on Saturday's game but next Friday's Champions League draw that will plot a path to the final in Rome.

With all four Premier League teams through to the last eight, there is the prospect of another all-English final.

Rooney is looking forward to the draw, although he is far from concerned who stands in his side's way of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League crown.

"Whoever we get, we know it will be a difficult one because there are clearly no easy games at this stage of the competition," said Rooney.

"We saw that against Milan as it was a difficult, close game, and both teams had a few chances each. Thankfully we took ours.

"We knew it would be a different game to the one in Milan and we could have done better at times to stop them taking those chances.

"But we're delighted we're through, and that's the main thing."

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