Robbie Fowler has credited Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers with restoring a fear factor in his team as they prepare to cross swords with fierce rivals Manchester United at the weekend.

The Northern Irishman's charges travel to Old Trafford with an 11-point cushion on their opponents - an incredible swing of 40 points in the Reds' favour in comparison to the same stage of last season.

A Daniel Sturridge header settled the previous league meeting between the two sides earlier in the campaign, while the Red Devils claimed some revenge by taking the spoils in a subsequent League Cup tie.

But having watched his former club systematically dismantle Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in recent months, Fowler believes the visitors should be favourites on Sunday.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "It's always a massive game but the difference this time is that Liverpool must be favourites. I can't remember the last time a Liverpool team went to Old Trafford in that position.

"On paper it's a game Liverpool should win. They're in great form and I am quietly confident Liverpool can get a big result there. People talk about how far United have dropped but I also look at it from the other side - how far Liverpool have come.

"That's testament to what Brendan has achieved so far. He has got the team playing so well and I think teams are starting to fear Liverpool again. The manager deserves a lot of credit for that."

United have suffered four defeats on home soil in the Barclays Premier League this season, but Fowler acknowledged that Rodgers and his players must be ready for a potential backlash.

"A few teams have gone to Old Trafford and got results this season," the 38-year-old continued. "It has lost that fear factor. United had it for a number of years.

"Teams went there knowing they would be on the back foot and almost expecting to lose. That's not happening anymore. Now teams are actually pushing on looking to win there rather than sitting back, hoping to nick a point.

"When Liverpool play Everton everyone says the formbook goes out of the window and to a certain degree, I'd say the same goes for Liverpool v Manchester United games.

"Forget the season they're having, United will certainly up their game for the visit of Liverpool. Brendan and the players need to be ready for that."

With 10 games left to play in 2013-14, the Reds are in second place in the division, trailing leaders Chelsea by seven points with a fixture in hand.


Naturally, supporters are dreaming of a title challenge; Fowler is too, but the ex-striker is equally taking a broader view of the progress achieved by Rodgers in a short space of time.

He added: "You look at Chelsea and Manchester City and, if you are being honest, their squads are stronger. But this Liverpool side keep progressing and keep getting results. They are up there on merit, they haven't been lucky.

"Hopefully they can keep surprising people. Confidence is high and if Liverpool do beat United, more and more people will be talking about Liverpool as possible champions.

"I'm a Liverpool fan and I'd love that to happen. But if it doesn't happen this season the future looks very bright. We've got a fantastic manager who is on course to bring the glory days back to Liverpool."