Daniel Sturridge calls for calm ahead of Manchester United clash

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Daniel Sturridge believes Liverpool must stick to their usual game plan when they play Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.

Just two points separate the pair going into this weekend's clash and a win for the Merseyside giants would see them leapfrog the Red Devils into fourth place in the Premier League table.

Bitter rivalry

It's not just a game that could be vital for the pursuit for a Champions League place, but a North West rivalry that sees the two most successful club's in English football history go head-to-head.

With so much at stake it can be easy for tempers to be lost and pre-match plans to go out of the window - this fixture has a history of producing decisive red cards.

However, Sturridge knows how important the game is for Liverpool and stresses that his side will remain calm and stick to Brendan Rodgers' tactics for the full 90 minutes.

"Of course, it's a rivalry, but it's another three points and we'll just approach the game as we always do - that's the most important thing," Sturridge told the official Liverpool website.

"It's going to be a big game for us. We're going into the game looking to win it, as we always do, and we're looking forward to it.

Mentally focused

"We'll go into this game with the right mentality, we'll look to play our football and to try to go out there and win the game.

"That's the most important thing - to play our football. If we do that then hopefully everything will take care of itself."

If Liverpool are to finish in the top-four this season, then three points is the minimum they should be aiming for on Sunday.

United advantage?

United have the edge in the top flight and a loss to Louis van Gaal's side would Liverpool slide a massive five points behind their rivals.

Both team's go into the match in excellent form and it has the potential to be a mouth-watering clash. Last Sunday, the Red Devils produced a fantastic performance to thrash Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford.

United haven't been the force many expected them to be this season after breaking the £100 million barrier on the likes of Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera last summer, however their effort against Spurs may be a sign of things to come.

Liverpool have looked superb since losing 3-0 to United last December and are unbeaten in the Premier League since. Wins against Manchester City, Southampton and Burnley have produced some of the best football from the Merseyside club and their early season troubles are well in the past.

Last Monday, Rodgers' men were forced to battle to a 1-0 win against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. It wasn't the prettiest performance from the Reds but they won ugly, always the sign of a good side.

Praise For Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho has been at the pinnacle of Liverpool's top performances.

The Brazilian has been unplayable at times and his goals against Manchester City and Southampton were both unstoppable. The former Inter Milan man's recent effort were rewarded as he scooped Liverpool's 'Player of the Month' award for February.

And Sturridge, who was assisted by Coutinho for his goal against West Ham United in January, has praised his team-mate's top-form and believes his award was fully deserved.

Brazilian magic

"He's great to play with. He's very skilful, sees a pass and scores very nice goals, also, so it's a pleasure to play with him," the England international added.

"He's quite chilled, he's not too loud. He has a little bit of a joke, but he's just a relaxed, calm guy. He comes in and does his work and is humble, just like everyone else is.

"I think it's down to him to work as hard as he possibly can to get to where he wants to be - and I am sure he wants to aim for the stars.

Continued success

"That's very possible with the attributes he has, so as long as he continues doing what he's doing, I'm sure he'll go a long way in the game."

Manchester United's defence has been scrutinised this season and many believe that it is not strong enough.

Defensive frailties?

The likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have received their fair share of criticism, likewise new signings Shaw and Blind and some feel that Van Gaal did not sign enough quality to improve his back-four last summer.

Coutinho is a menace for defenders who always wants to create chances. His quick-feet, vision and ability to glide past opponents has made him one of the Premier League's most feared players. He will certainly look to make United's defenders time at Anfield a bad experience.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Daniel Sturridge

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