Dimitar Berbatov: Liverpool worthy favourites to beat United but never write my boys off
Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov muses on the gap between Liverpool and Manchester United ahead of Sunday's showdown while also congratulating Spurs for their Champions League progression...
"There would be a great irony if United were the team to do that because everyone is saying how poorly United are playing so to claim the last unbeaten record. I can see it now - Bam! United up 1-0, and Mourinho running on the pitch just like Jurgen did!"
Strange to see United so far behind Liverpool
It's incredible to think that if Manchester United lose at Anfield on Sunday United will be 19 points behind Liverpool in the table. Who would have thought that United could trail the league leaders by that much? I know that Liverpool and Manchester City supporters will have wanted that to happen but I'm sure they never expected it to happen.
As a fan and an ex-player, it's strange to see Manchester United in that position, so far from the top of the table. In my time it was different. We were first or second in the league and Liverpool were behind us. I always try to be positive and continue to say 'We will be back at the top where we belong f***ing hell because this is Manchester United!' but for the moment I have to admit that it's not happening. I will never lose the faith though!
The Betfair market makes Liverpool strong favourites to win Sunday's meeting between and who can argue with that? The way they play, where they are in the table, it's painful to admit it but they are the right favourite in that game and they will probably go away with the win.
United must improve for Sunday
Those odds are short partly because United suffered another defeat in the Champions League this week, beaten 2-1 at Valencia. The good thing about United losing was that there was very little consequence to the match, the bad thing was the result. It's no excuse but from a football player's point-of-view sometimes you just save your strength in a fixture like that because you know there is a big game coming up and maybe that was the case last night.
One positive we can take is that Marcus Rashford scored again as that can only be good for his confidence. But defensively it's not a good sign to concede twice against a team that is 15th in La Liga, and as a whole, it's another bad result in a season that is not going well for United.
United certainly cannot afford to bring that approach to Sunday's big game because Liverpool will be at them from the first minute and Anfield will be a cauldron. The atmosphere there can be intense, it's loud and the crowd is very close to the pitch and on your back from the very first whistle. You can take that and use it in your favour to inspire you to show your best, but more often it goes the other way. The fans give them more power.
Liverpool are still undefeated and they are not that way because of luck, they are just playing good football. Worryingly, Mo Salah is coming into form, which is more bad news for the United defence.
The first 10-15 minutes, as ever, will be so important. I just hope that United can hold on against the early pressure and not concede.
But don't write United off, they can surprise us. Look at the Juventus game in the Champions League.
Maybe Liverpool can emulate Arsenal's Invincibles and not lose for an entire campaign, but I doubt it against this Premier League and I expect Liverpool's unbeaten run to come to an end at some point - City finally lost last weekend after all - so why not United to give them their first defeat, that would be something!
There would be a great irony if United were the team to do that because everyone is saying how poorly United are playing so to claim the last unbeaten record. I can see it now - Bam! United up 1-0, and Mourinho running on the pitch just like Jurgen did!
Talking about the Liverpool manager, I bet you Klopp is telling his side about how vulnerable United are at the moment. And why not use that? He knows the crowd will be so up for it and will want Liverpool to play at a fierce tempo from the beginning to draw early blood.
But I know the pressure will also be huge at United and Mourinho can hopefully use it to fuel the players and say now is the chance for us to beat them!
It's tough. I want United to be the first team to beat Liverpool in the Premier League, on the other hand I must admit that Liverpool are playing great football and the Betfair odds tell the story, so I am a bit torn between being a fan and an analyst!
A great night for Spurs
Unlike United, Tottenham had to be at 100% for their Champions League outing and they did well to get the result they needed. Spurs had good chances in the game, and more chances than Barca. Some may point to a home team without Messi (and a few others) in the starting XI, but that is not Spurs' fault - they did not ask Barca to play that team! - and they still had great players in the team, look at Dembele, Coutinho, Rakitic etc.
That result ensured a happy ending to Spurs' group campaign. Who would have believed that Tottenham would have gone through to the last 16 after picking up one point from the first three games?
Falling into the Europa League may have been better for Tottenham's hopes of lifting some silverware this year but it's surely best that the club stayed in the world's premier club competition. If you're a Spurs player you want to play against the best. If you want to keep your best players you want to be among the best teams, you want to show the desire to develop.
My story shows you that fairytales can happen
They may be outsiders in the Champions League odds (Spurs are [29.0] on the Betfair Exchange) but fairytales can come true - I was part of a Bayer Leverkusen team that reached a Champions League final when no-one believed in us.
I was a forward at Leverkusen in 2002 when we got all the way to the final, and we were a massive underdog in the competition, no-one knew us by our names and no-one gave us a chance, yet we beat Liverpool and Manchester United on our way to the final. Unfortunately, we couldn't get past Real Madrid to lift the trophy. Still, it was a fairytale - admittedly without the happy ending - but it was a real fairytale.
So, of course, it is possible that Spurs could do the same.
Football has changed a lot from my time in 2000 to now, teams are better and stronger, but Spurs have good players and a great coach and you just never know.
Maybe playing the Europa would have given Spurs a better chance of winning a trophy but football doesn't end tomorrow and there will be plenty of chances for Spurs to play that competition in the future. If you have the chance to play in the Champions League you take it and test yourself against the best, see where you're at against the best players in the world, and maybe something amazing can happen.
There's certainly a chance for a new name on the trophy with City the favourites and PSG up there, too. And with Real Madrid off form and maybe Barcelona not quite at their best the opportunity is there for a surprise finalist and maybe even better than that.
Win £100,000 by picking six correct scores!
Get involved with our free-to-play Football Jackpots this weekend for your chance to win £100,000. Here are Dimitar's predictions to hopefully point you in the right direction...
Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester
Wolves 2-1 Bournemouth
Huddersfield 1-2 Newcastle
Fulham 2-1 West Ham
Southampton 1-3 Arsenal
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United