Fletcher hopes Liverpool attack against Manchester United

Darren Fletcher is certain Liverpool will not come to Old Trafford with the same safety-first attitude Rangers used to such smothering effect earlier this week.

The battles between the north-west giants are always highlights in the Premier League fixture calendar no matter what their respective positions in the league.

That Liverpool have now gone 20 years without a title and are trying to rebuild under Roy Hodgson has not lessened United's desire for victory, a need made all the more acute because of disappointing away draws at Fulham and Everton.

Paul Scholes is virtually certain to return, which should at least provide the Red Devils midfield with some of the inventiveness it was so badly lacking on Tuesday night.

And Fletcher feels United can also profit from the more expansive approach he expects Liverpool to adopt.

"Liverpool's history will not allow them to put nine men behind the ball," he said, reflecting on how Rangers were so successful in stifling United this week.

"That is not their style.

"Under Roy Hodgson I am sure they will be disciplined and well drilled. But they will look to win the match as well."

In making 10 changes to his starting line-up in midweek, Ferguson seemed to be emphasising the importance of Sunday's clash.

He quickly learned the importance of beating Liverpool at the start of his staggering 24-year reign at Old Trafford.

And while United's success has left their fellow north-west giants in the shade over the past two decades, they remain a foe to be beaten with relish.

"It is the biggest game because of the history and the success the two clubs have had," reflected Fletcher.

"We have had a lot of battles over the years. There is a great history between the two clubs and we have equalled their number of league titles now, so a lot is looked into that.

"It is a massive occasion, when form goes out of the window.

"Liverpool will be looking to kick-start their season but to have them at Old Trafford so early just emphasises the importance of getting the right result."

The side issues include the injury to Antonio Valencia that United have confirmed will keep him out for "a good portion" of the season.

Valencia last night had an operation on the horrific ankle injury he suffered against Rangers and was examined by United medical staff this morning after which it was confirmed Valencia has also suffered ligament damage.

"The operation went well, a plate has been inserted to stabilise the fracture but there is obviously significant ligament damage that follows a dislocation," read a United statement.

"Antonio is perfectly fine, very positive and very determined."

Michael Owen's future is also a hot topic.

Now in the final season of a two-year contract that has brought more appearances on the substitutes' bench than on the pitch, Owen does not cut a happy figure.

Once old boss Gerard Houllier is free of his commitments to the French Football Federation and can concentrate fully on Aston Villa, there has to be a decent chance a deal will be struck for the former England hit-man to move on.

Although Owen will expect to be involved in the Carling Cup trip to Scunthorpe next Wednesday, it is fanciful to believe he will start against Liverpool, especially after Sir Alex Ferguson spoke so glowingly of Dimitar Berbatov in the wake of that Rangers' stalemate.

Berbatov has already scored four goals this term, which is a pretty good effort considering his combined total in his first two years at Old Trafford was 26.

The Bulgarian is part of a United strike force that has plundered 11 goals in its opening four Premier League games.

Problems have been evident at the back though, where Ferguson's side have conceded late goals - and dropped points - in both their away games.

It is a problem that Fletcher recognises must be stopped.

"There has been nothing wrong with our overall performances," said the Scotland skipper.

"We are playing some good stuff at times.

"What we are missing just now is the killer instinct. We need to change that as soon as possible."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil