Momentum with Man U as Liverpool head to Old Trafford

January 14, 2017
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (right), takes the ball past Hull City's Josh Tymon during the English League Cup semifinal, first leg, match between Manchester United and Hull at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
Hull City's goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic gathers the ball as Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, (right), advances during the English League Cup semifinal, 1st leg, match between Manchester United and Hull at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (left), and Southampton's Virgil van Dijk challenge for the ball during the English League Cup semifinal first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St. Mary's stadium in Southampton, England, on Wednesday.(AP Photo)
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With Manchester United on their longest winning run in eight years, it's tempting to conclude that a giant of English football is starting to resemble the force of old.

Some perspective is needed, however, when assessing United's nine straight victories in all competitions since December 8.

Only one of their opponents in that one-month period could be classed as a major rival: Tottenham. And that 1-0 win came on December 11, when Spurs weren't showing the kind of form they are at present.

Otherwise, United have proved to be ruthless in sweeping aside teams who most likely won't finish higher than mid-table in the Premier League or were plucky underdogs in cup competitions, like Reading in the FA Cup or Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League.

Bigger tests lie in wait for United and they start with the visit of Liverpool in the league tomorrow.

What is traditionally the biggest game on the English football calendar is a chance for United's players to prove they really are a force to be reckoned with this year and that, maybe, they could still be title contenders.

Win at Old Trafford and United would close to within two points of Liverpool, who head into the 21st round of games in second place. First-place Chelsea have a 10-point cushion over United with half the season gone, and play champion Leicester away today.

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