LIVERPOOL captain Jordan Henderson will be wary of looking at the league table this morning to get an indicator of the match he faces today.
A quick glance at the Premier League shows Liverpool holding a 16-point cushion over arch-rivals Manchester United after only 16 games.
Everything on Merseyside seems rosy with Jurgen Klopp’s team unbeaten in the league and celebrating beating Napoli to reach the last-16 of the Champions League.
While it’s been a season that has lurched from crisis to crisis for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.
But Henderson is wise enough to know the perils of dismissing the team from the red half of Manchester.
Now in his eighth season at Liverpool, he has been on the winning side against United in only three of his 16 appearances.
That includes only one league game at Anfield, back in September, 2013, when David Moyes was in charge of United.
So while form, confidence and results all point to a home victory today, Henderson is not taking anything for granted.
“I can’t remember the last time we beat them in the league so that shows how tough a game it is,” he says.
“They have fantastic players in the squad, and of course a fantastic manager, who has won lots of trophies.
“I’ve played with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford for England, and they are top players.
“Probably when you look at the table, you are a little bit surprised that United are not doing as well as they can be. But that doesn’t mean they are less of a threat.
“I saw that last season against Manchester City when City were going for the title. You would have thought they were dead and buried at 2-0 down, but they came back and won the game.
“That shows how much of a threat they are.
“They have that never-say-die attitude and I’m sure they will be thinking this is the perfect opportunity to come and kick-start their season and start to catch the teams ahead of them.
“We must do our job to make sure that doesn’t happen and we get the three points.”
Henderson has had the armband at Anfield for three years since Steven Gerrard departed and he has matured impressively in that time.
It’s obvious that he is very proud of being captain, and nothing would give him greater satisfaction than lifting silverware with this Reds team.
And if Henderson can lead the side that ends the long and tortuous wait since they were last League Champions, it would be even sweeter.
“When I first got the role, it was a big responsibility but one that I enjoyed,” he says.
“As time has gone on, it has got a lot easier.
“I have grown into the role and now it feels pretty normal.
“I also see a good core of leaders in the team who lead the whole group. That makes it a lot easier for me.
“I’ve always had a good people around me and I still have. And I couldn’t ask for a better group of lads in our dressing room.
“I feel we’re ready. We definitely have the potential to win trophies. But it’s up to us to go and produce it on the pitch.
“I have every confidence with the talent that we have and the people in the dressing room that we can go and produce trophies in the very near future. Hopefully it’s this season.”
Ahead of today’s big clash, Liverpool will need to make changes at the back, with Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold joining Joe Gomez as injury absentees.
But defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk will be there, partnered by Dejan Lovren, and the Dutchman isn’t panicking about a reshuffle with James Milner likely to drop in at right-back.
“We have been playing with Dejan as well a lot this season and I don’t think we want to change anything,” he says.
“We just have to do the things that we have done almost all season.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Manchester United are a good team and have good players up front.
“But we are a very good team all over and we will be ready.”