- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

LONDON (AP) - When Alex Ferguson took over as Manchester United manager, Liverpool was the dominant force of English football. The Scot made clear that his objective was to take the Reds off their perch, and he succeeded.

His successor, David Moyes, has so far failed to keep Ferguson’s standards of excellence at United as the Red Devils are languishing in sixth place ahead of Liverpool’s visit on Sunday. In contrast, the Merseyside club is in the hunt for its first Premier League title in 24 years, trailing leader Chelsea by seven points with a game in hand.

Here are five things to know ahead of this weekend’s Premier League matches:

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TITLE CHELSEA’S TO LOSE

A win for Chelsea at Aston Villa on Saturday would lift Jose Mourinho’s team to 69 points and 10 points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal, who don’t play until Sunday.

Whatever the Portuguese manager says about preferring to be in Manchester City’s position - nine points behind Chelsea in fourth place but with three games in hand - there is no doubt that the South London club is ideally placed to win its first title in four years.

Mourinho, though, keeps pretending his team is the one under pressure, despite evidence that City’s form is dipping. After dropping points at Norwich and losing to Wigan in the FA Cup, Manuel Pellegrini’s side has been knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.

“Our next objective is top three, as that gives us direct qualification (to the Champions League group stage). If at a certain point our distance to fourth is big, I will say we will think a bit more, but objective now is top three. If Man City win three games in hand, which they can, they are top,” Mourinho said.

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RED ALERT AT LUNCHTIME

Liverpool has not finished above Manchester United in the Premier League for 12 years, but the Reds’ agony looks about to end. For once, Brendan Rodgers’ players are travelling to their bitter rivals as favorites, having played a superb attacking football the whole season.

The Reds are 11 points ahead of United in the standings and have scored 73 goals in the league this season, 27 more than David Moyes’ team and more than any other club. United has shown signs of improvement recently but a first loss at Old Trafford against Liverpool since a 4-1 drubbing five years ago would not be a surprise.

“To see Man City doing well, and particularly Liverpool, is really difficult,” United striker Wayne Rooney told Inside United magazine. “It’s not nice when we know we are capable of being up there challenging and we haven’t been doing that this season. However, it means we have to step up and get back up there because the feeling we’ve had this season is not a nice feeling at all to have”

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