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Gerrard appeals for calm ahead of United clash

January 27, 2012

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has urged the club’s fans to be on their best behaviour when Manchester United visit Anfield for tomorrow’s powder-keg FA Cup tie.

Tomorrow’s fourth round showdown is the first time the bitter rivals have met since Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight games for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.

Although Suarez is still serving his ban, Evra is likely to start for United and Gerrard wants supporters to focus all their attention on backing Kenny Dalglish’s team.

“We do all have a responsibility,” said Gerrard, who was sent off when the sides met in the FA Cup last season in Dalglish’s first game back in charge, United winning 1-0 at Old Trafford.

“With Fair Play going on, and the campaigns that have been going on for a long time, we all have a responsibility to ensure that this game is remembered for the football.

“Liverpool and Manchester United is a massive rivalry and of course there is going to be stuff in the newspapers and banter between fans.

“But it would be fantastic if after the weekend it is remembered for being a top game and obviously, from our point of view, a Liverpool win.

“We don’t want any front page stories from this game or any stories besides a football match between two top sides and may the best team win.”

With confidence sky-high after overcoming Manchester City 3-2 on aggregate in midweek to book a place in next month’s League Cup final at Wembley, Liverpool are determined to carry on the good work against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Gerrard has dismissed suggestions United are favourites as they will be fresher after a free midweek.

“The lads are more than ready for the weekend,” added the England midfielder.

“It will be great to not only knock City out of the (League) Cup, but to then knock United out of the FA Cup.

“We set a benchmark against City. We have to make sure we play with the same effort and I’m sure we will be fine.”

Craig Bellamy, who scored the decisive goal in midweek, could start on the substitutes bench after the energy-sapping City tie.

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney has warned Liverpool that United are arriving at Anfield bang in form.

Rooney insists Ferguson’s team are over their new year blip which saw them lose back-to-back league games against Blackburn and Newcastle.

They have responded by defeating Bolton and Arsenal in the league – as well as eliminating Manchester City from the FA Cup.

And Rooney is confident United can carry on their good form at Anfield.

“We relish this part of the season,” said the England striker.

“Once we get into the new year we can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Every game is massive and we don’t want to be dropping points.

“But I always feel we are at our best around now because we can see the end of the season and that there are trophies there to be won.

“That’s why we stay focused and, more often than not, we’re always there at the end.”

- AFP


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