Gary Neville believes Manchester United are facing Liverpool at the right time following their recent nine-game winning run.
Jose Mourinho‘s men, after managing just two Premier League wins between September and early December, have claimed six successive wins in the the league heading into 2017.
A win over second placed Liverpool on Sunday would take Man United to within two points of Jurgen Klopp’s men.
And Neville, speaking to Sky Sports, claimed that this was an ideal time to face a big rival in the Premier League.
“The personality and character of Ibrahimovic is having a massive impact upon the players in the United dressing room,” Neville said.
“You talk about managers having an influence in the dressing room, but when they’re out on the pitch, Ibrahimovic’s influence is huge. It feels like Liverpool will have to handle his personality and character on Sunday.”
“I’ve always felt this Liverpool team need that perfect week of preparation because they put such incredible energy and effort into the matches,” Neville added. “And it obviously becomes a lot more difficult to do it every three-and-a-half days because there is less recovery time and training time.
“They are hitting an intense period and it is a real test for them to come through it. United will probably feel they are playing them at a good time and Liverpool will want to come out of that mini-rut pretty quickly.
“Four or five weeks ago you’d have said Liverpool would be favourites, but now you would probably say United were. If United win on Sunday they will feel they are on a major roll, while it’s very important for Liverpool not to lose.”
It isn’t often that a group of players will find themselves in a situation where one game could shape the entirety of their season, but such is the case with the game against Liverpool: a win would see United well and truly break into the pack currently chasing Chelsea; anything less, on the other hand, would consign Mourinho’s men to further ignominy in sixth spot. All of that packed into 90 minutes. This is the time to really put on a show.
Indeed, such an encounter will demonstrate not just whether United can take control of a truly big game; it will show the world whether this side can pose a challenge to Chelsea come May.