Al Kuwaitiah  

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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Rooney aims to steal against Liverpool
Agence France Presse
Wayne Rooney has set his sights on stealing the spotlight from Manchester United new-boy Anthony Martial when England’s freshly crowned record goalscorer returns to Premier League action in Saturday’s clash with bitter rivals Liverpool. Rooney passed Bobby Charlton as England’s most prolific marksman when he netted his 50th international goal with a powerful penalty in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Switzerland at Wembley. It was a much-needed jolt of confidence for Rooney, whose only goals in United colors this term have come in a Champions League rout of Club Brugge.
 
The 29-year-old hopes his memorable milestone provides the springboard for a dynamic display against Liverpool at Old Trafford, and ideally an end to his 10-match goalless run in the Premier League that stretches back to April.
 
“To achieve what I have, I would be lying if I said it didn’t put a spring in my step and make you want to carry on [scoring],” Rooney said.
 
“I am very happy and grateful. Now I have to get back into training and start focusing on Liverpool.
 
“Hopefully getting two goals in the last two games will mean I continue scoring.”
 
United manager Louis van Gaal could do with a sustained run of influential performances from Rooney as he looks to ease the weight of expectations on new signing Martial.
 
The 19-year-old was lured from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a 36 million pounds ($55 million) fee that could rise to 58 million pounds.
 
The vast sum is a major gamble on the raw French forward’s untapped potential and even van Gaal, who needed an additional threat to pep up a spluttering attack that has scored only three goals in four league games, has described the fee for Martial as “ridiculous.”
 
Both United, 2-1 losers at Swansea, and Liverpool, shocked 3-0 at home by West Ham, were beaten for the first time this season in their last matches before the international break, raising doubts about their ability to fight for the title.
 
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, likely to start against United with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen struggling with injuries and Phillipe Coutinho suspended, admits the outcome of Saturday’s match will have a significant impact on how both clubs fare this season.
 
“The two teams arrive in a similar situation with a lot of new players, a lot of new signings,” Lucas said.
 
“It’s probably one of the biggest games of the season. I think if you get a good result there it can give you a lot of belief and confidence going forward.
 
“It’s a good opportunity for us to put the result against West Ham behind us and start again.”
 
Leaders Manchester City will face a stern examination of the top tier’s last remaining 100 percent record when they travel to in-form Crystal Palace Saturday.
 
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won all four of their matches in swaggering style, raising hopes they can wrestle the title away from Chelsea.
 
But the Eagles won’t be push-overs after climbing to second place on the back of three victories, including a stunning 2-1 win at Chelsea in their last match.
 
And Palace boss Alan Pardew has warned City that his team will have nothing to lose when they face the league superpowers. “It’s an unusual position for us and something we probably can’t sustain for a long period, but in the short term we can enjoy it. We deserve to be there after four games,” Pardew said.
 
Champions Chelsea are marooned in midtable after a miserable start and can ill-afford a third defeat of the season when they take on Everton Saturday.
 
The main focus of attention at Goodison Park will be Everton defender John Stones, who failed in his attempt to force through a move to Chelsea after his club rejected his transfer request and snubbed the Blues’ offer of around 30 million pounds for the England international.
 
Everton manager Roberto Martinez expects Stones to cope with the scrutiny. “John has gone from strength to strength in a period of high pressure and has used it in the right way, taking the support of everyone at the club and has performed with incredible maturity and composure,” he said.
 
FA Cup winners Arsenal host Stoke, also Saturday.
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