Manchester United-Liverpool Preview: Van Gaal looks to Giggs for derby passion

The manager is happy to hand the reins to his assistant ahead of Sunday’s clash after a “marvellous” tactical analysis, while Brendan Rodgers harked back to last season’s results

Louis van Gaal says he will rely on Ryan Giggs to fire up Manchester United for Sunday’s Premier League game with fierce rivals Liverpool.

The Dutchman will get his first taste of this highly-charged fixture at Old Trafford but revealed his assistant has left him and the other United newcomers in no doubt about the significance of this game.

In over 20 years as a United player, Giggs played an integral part in helping Alex Ferguson to knock this weekend’s opponents “off their perch”.

“I have an assistant manager in Ryan Giggs and he presented an analysis of Liverpool and he did it in a marvellous way, so I’m very pleased,” said Van Gaal.

Meanwhile, fit-again defender Jonny Evans has dismissed suggestions United are firm favourites to prevail.

The hosts are seven points and six places above their fierce rivals in the table and will be seeking a sixth-straight victory.

Liverpool have failed to reach the heights of last term, including an emphatic 3-0 triumph at Old Trafford in March, following the departure of Luis Suarez, but Evans still expects a stiff test.

“We are in a bit of form in terms of results and Liverpool are not but all form goes out of the window in these games and anything can happen,” Evans told MUTV.

“I haven’t seen many of their games this season, but I watched a bit of the one in the Champions League the other night against Basel.

“Obviously, they were under a wee bit of pressure to get a big result that they didn’t get in the end.

“Luis Suarez has gone and maybe they aren’t as strong, but they’ve still got some fantastic players who can still create magic on the pitch and that is something we will have to be careful of.”

Evans returned from a foot injury to feature in Monday’s 2-1 success at Southampton and will hope to be a touch sharper this weekend following that first outing since September.

“I obviously didn’t start the game but I came on after 15 minutes, so it was good to get a run out and it was a tough game as well,” he added.

“It was very fast paced and I certainly felt that in the first 10 minutes. It has been a frustrating time for me with injuries so it was nice to get back involved.”

United will be without Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind through injury, but Phil Jones and Rafael are available again and Van Gaal hinted Radamel Falcao could return to action after being an unused substitute at St Mary’s Stadium.

Liverpool must bounce back from last weekend’s frustrating 0-0 stalemate at home to Sunderland and Tuesday’s Champions League exit following a 1-1 draw with Basel.

However, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, manager Brendan Rodgers accepts facing United is always one of the most important games of the season for his supporters.

“It’s a very important game – it always is,” he declared. “It’s a massive game in the fixture list for this country.

“We got an outstanding performance and result last season and if we can replicate that we’ll be very happy.”

The visitors remain without injured striker Daniel Sturridge but Rodgers reports Adam Lallana in good shape following a rib problem and Mario Balotelli could well return from a groin strain.

“He’s been out for a while but in the last couple of days he’s looked good in training, so we’ll give him every chance to come into the squad,” added Rodgers of Balotelli.

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