Nathaniel Clyne says Liverpool are due a victory against Manchester United when the fierce Premier League rivals meet in the Europa League on Thursday.
The 195th competitive meeting between the two clubs is their first in European competition, and will be the only time two English clubs have faced off in the competition since Liverpool played Tottenham in April 1973.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are on an eight-match unbeaten run in Europe and have responded well to their League Cup final disappointment against Manchester City, having recorded back-to-back league wins over Manuel Pellegrini’s men and Crystal Palace.
United, by contrast, saw a four-game winning run halted at West Brom on Sunday in another blow to their underwhelming campaign, but Louis van Gaal retains a perfect record in four encounters with Liverpool since taking charge in 2014.
And Clyne is desperate to end that run at Anfield this week as Liverpool look to secure a first-leg advantage – and avoid the potential perils of an away goal – at Anfield.
“This is why I signed for such a big club, to look forward to nights like this,” Clyne told Liverpool’s website. “I think we owe them from the Premier League games, which we probably should have got more out of.
“We need to take it to them, especially in the first leg when we’re at home, try and get some goals [but also] keep a clean sheet, which is the most important thing. We don’t want them to get an away goal.”
United face a gruelling run of fixtures over the next two weeks, with an FA Cup quarter-final against West Ham on Sunday and a derby trip to Manchester City following the second leg against Liverpool at Old Trafford.
But defender Daley Blind insists the last-16 tie remains massive for his side as they aim to keep their hopes of lifting the trophy in Basel – and of securing a Champions League qualification spot – alive.
“It’s a busy schedule coming up again and Liverpool will be a great game to play in, especially as it’s now in the Europa League,” he told United’s matchday programme. “You’re either in or out, through to the next round or not, so it’s very important for us.
“They will say it’s important for them too so we have to show that we want it more.”
Clyne, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are all expected to return to Klopp’s line-up after starting Sunday’s win at Crystal Palace on the bench, though Christian Benteke – who scored the winning penalty at Selhurst Park – will also be pushing for a recall. Lucas Leiva (thigh) is out.
Injury problems persist for United. They are still without captain Wayne Rooney – who scored the winner at Anfield in the league meeting last month – due to a knee injury, as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Ashley Young (groin), Antonio Valencia (ankle), Luke Shaw (leg) and Phil Jones (ankle).
Jesse Lingard is also suspended, but Marouane Fellaini was fit enough for the bench on Sunday after missing six games with a hamstring problem and should be involved.
Key Opta Stats:
– Manchester United have lost just one of their nine meetings with English sides in European competition (W6 D2).
– United haven’t won any of their last five away knockout games in European competition, losing four times (D1).
– Juan Mata has been involved in eight goals in his last eight games against Liverpool in all competitions (three goals and five assists).
– James Milner has scored a penalty in each of his last two Europa League appearances at Anfield for Liverpool.