Chris Smalling is hoping Manchester United make Liverpool pay for their midweek disappointment at Newcastle, saying: “We’re confident of causing them some problems.”
United head for Anfield on Sunday having slipped to sixth place in the Premier League table as a result of Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw at St James’ Park.
However, Smalling is hoping they can take out their frustration on Jurgen Klopp’s men by completing a double following their 3-1 victory over their rivals at Old Trafford in September.
He told MUTV: “In recent times, we’ve done very well against them – obviously this year at Old Trafford and last season we’ve got very good results, so we’re very confident of going there and causing them a problem.”
Smalling and his team-mates headed back across the Pennines on Tuesday fuming after surrendering 2-0 and 3-2 leads against the relegation-threatened Magpies on a night when they placated their critics with some enterprising football, but were unable to match it with defensive resilience.
First-half goals from Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard put them in charge and after Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic had cancelled out their advantage, Rooney struck again 11 minutes from time.
But their joy was short-lived as full-back Paul Dummett lashed home a 90th-minute equaliser to ensure the spoils were shared.
Smalling said: “If you came into the changing rooms after the match, it was like we’d lost the game. We put ourselves in such a good position and we could have finished it a little bit earlier, but even when we did so well to get to 3-2, we need to hold on and be a bit stronger.
“We got that early goal which settled us down and we could have scored more, but it’s about finding that balance so we’re not giving away these sloppy goals just before half-time and just before the final whistle.
“They’re key times in the game and we need to make sure we’re switched on.”
It proved an eventful evening on Tyneside for Smalling, who unwittingly deflected Dummett’s strike past helpless keeper David de Gea after conceding the penalty from which Mitrovic made it 2-2 following a wrestling match with the Serbia international.
The 26-year-old was astonished to see referee Mike Dean, who had earlier awarded United a penalty for handball against Chancel Mbemba, point to the spot after allowing a series of other tussles go.
Smalling said: “We were both jostling for positions throughout the game. The referee said we were both at it, so he didn’t give anything and I think there needs to be that consistency with the decisions.
“You can see my shirt was clearly pulled as well, so it’s just about consistency. If you’re going to give them, fair enough, but you need to be giving them on a regular basis.”