Football: Leonhardsen says Liverpool must copy United's formula

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The Independent Online
Liverpool midfielder Oyvind Leonhardsen is urging his team-mates to take a leaf out of Manchester United's book - to give themselves a chance of halting their arch rivals' relentless charge to the Premiership title.

Leonhardsen says there will be no shame in copying a few tricks of the trade from Old Trafford, as long as the Anfield set can learn to do them even better. He sees consistency as the byword for United's success and insists Liverpool need to emulate.

The Norwegian international spelled out the challenge for Liverpool as they prepare for their showdown with United at Anfield on Saturday. Many see this game as crucial to the rest of Liverpool's season, and it could be one of the last chances for anyone to halt the runaway men from Old Trafford scooping the top prize again.

Leonhardsen stressed: "We have to learn to be like United, to string together a consistent run of results. They do it. Sometimes they look like they are playing in second gear, but they can rattle off the right sort of results week after week."

It is that awesome power that is leaving many of the expected big-name challengers trailing in United's wake. It is happening to Arsenal, who are four points off the pace after losing at Highbury to Liverpool on Sunday, and it is happening to Newcastle - seven points adrift after losing at Bolton yesterday.

Liverpool, still six points adrift, know only too well how damaging defeat by lowly Barnsley was in their last home game, while Blackburn learnt the hard way at Old Trafford at the weekend.

Now it is up to Liverpool to halt the red steamroller, and Leonhardsen said: "They have improved so much even in a year. Last season they were losing Champions' League games at Juventus. This time around they are playing so well in Europe.

"In that year they have won the championship again, their players have gained from that experience in Europe and it shows. I watched them beat Kosice on TV last week, and they looked in second gear at times - but it was so comfortable.

"They are more composed and confident now. A team that wins all the time becomes more and more confident."

United's recent results are awesome - seven, six, five and four goals against Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Wimbledon and Blackburn respectively.

Liverpool, in the same period, have managed to lose to Everton, West Ham and Barnsley. Leonhardsen said: "We need to win games like them, on the trot, and believe in what we are doing.

"We were told we had to get four points from two games against Arsenal and United or we could forget the championship. Well, we have got three already after our win at Highbury. It is now up to us to continue that level of performance and form against United.

"We must get points against the bigger teams. We worked hard in training the week after the Barnsley defeat. We just have to keep it going. To play well as a team, a unit that gets things right - like United do."