14 Jan Mkhitaryan understands
Henrikh Mkhitaryan believes winning the individual duels will be key as Manchester United look to overcome bitter rivals Liverpool and bolster their title chances.
Old Trafford will play host to a mouthwatering 50th Premier League meeting of the north-west rivals on Sunday afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp’s men started the weekend second in the Premier League but without a win in all competitions in 2017, while United know victory will see them move within two points of the Reds.
Jose Mourinho’s side head into the match riding the crest of a nine-match winning run in which Mkhitaryan’s explosion after a cumbersome start has been key.
“Everyone is waiting for Sunday’s game,” Mkhitaryan told MUTV.
“I missed the first game against Liverpool at Anfield but I know the price of this game. I know the importance of this game. I know very well the history.
“It’s not the first time I’m going to play in such a derby and you have to be ready that day.
“It doesn’t matter, you have to play for the team and have to play for the crowd to do your best to win that game because it’s going to be (recorded) in the history.
“Of course, besides that, we need the three points which is very important for the next few months.”
Asked if the game will be emotionally as well as physically draining, Mkhitaryan said there are “a lot of components”, while stressing the importance of each player coming out on top in their individual battle.
He told MUTV: “(It’s) Not only the pressure, not only the way people are working for that game. It’s the teamwork, the last decisive pass, the last shot, the runs. It is everything.
“You cannot say you have to improve this component so we can win. No, you have to improve other components.
“You have to win every battle, every small metre counts and you have to win your duels. Then you will see you will win the game.”
United have not given up on the title and hope victory against Liverpool can be the catalyst to a late surge up the standings.
However, Mkhitaryan knows better than anyone at Old Trafford what a tough task lies in wait on Sunday after playing under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.
“They’ve improved a lot from last year with Jurgen Klopp,” he said. “I know him very well.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches and he can bring the team to a new level. His team are playing very interesting football and I think it’s going to be a nice game.
“I think he’s doing very well, he gives confidence to the players and takes the best out of the players. That’s what he does very well.”