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'The most challenging of opponents' – Klopp not underestimating Manchester United 'quality'

Jurgen Klopp has described Manchester United as ‘one of the strongest in Europe’ ahead of this afternoon’s crunch match between two of English football’s biggest clubs.

Manchester United may well be the most decorated side in English football history, however, the 2013 departure of Sir Alex Ferguson has seen a dramatic downturn in the clubs fortunes, the Red Devils finishing in the top four just twice since the Scot’s retirement.

Fifth placed United will be looking to capitalise on Chelsea’s 94th minute defeat to Newcastle, but today come up against a Liverpool side who are on one of the longest unbeaten runs in Premier League history, the Merseysiders looking nailed on to end their 30-year wait for a league title.

United’s form this season has been somewhat of an enigma, struggling to break down some of the division’s smaller sides, while taking points off all of the traditional ‘big six’ – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side still the only team to take points off Liverpool this season following the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford back in October.

While they are still a long way off the pace and are seemingly undergoing a huge overhaul, Jurgen Klopp reckons United are certainly making ‘progress,’ and admits he certainly won’t be underestimating a side that contains ‘world-class talent’.

“As a fellow manager it is easy to see the progress they make, although others on the outside are often not so quick to recognise,” Klopp wrote in his programme notes.

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“They have recruited some exceptional players and the evolution of their squad makes them one of the strongest in Europe, I would say.

“Look at their talent from the ‘keeper through to the forwards. They have world-class talent in that team and a squad full of match-winners. Big investment has resulted in a very strong group.

“Of course, looking to build something takes time. We know this ourselves. But they build with outstanding results and performances as a foundation. Their win this week in the FA Cup against Wolves was yet more evidence of how dangerous they are.

“United compete in four competitions still – this says a lot about their quality. They remain with much to fight for in the league, a semi-final second leg to come in the Carabao Cup, into the fourth round of the FA Cup and the knockout stages in Europe. You cannot compete as they do in these competitions if they are not an outstanding football team.

“I have no idea how this contest has been billed externally but I also couldn’t care less. I know how we have prepared and I know the respect we will show United.

“I’m sure people will point to their brilliant win away against Manchester City. But we analyse far more – we look much deeper – and we know we face the most challenging of opponents today.

“If anyone thinks that win at City is the only signpost of danger, then they are silly and underestimating.”

United are likely to be without Marcus Rashford for this afternoon’s game thanks to a back injury, while Liverpool could be boosted by the return of holding midfielder, Fabinho.

Read – Picking the best Liverpool v Man United XI made up only of U23 players

See also – Five longest unbeaten home runs in Premier League history