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The biggest game of the Premiership season so far sees Liverpool take on Manchester United at Old Trafford, where the Champions are unbeaten all season – Can Rafa’s side close the gap at the top?

Rafa Benitez hopes to make a decision on his future at Liverpool within the next two weeks and has played down talk of a switch to Real Madrid.

The Liverpool manager’s current contract expires at the end of next season and his position at Anfield has been uncertain for several months.

Talks with the club’s owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks regarding an extension have not gone smoothly thus far, but Benitez says he is hoping to reach an agreement for a new deal on Merseyside.

“Next week I am going to study my present and my future with my bosses,” said Benítez. “I have to decide on my future in the next two weeks.

“People who see me leaving for Madrid are wrong. I have a contract with Liverpool, I owe Liverpool and I am only thinking about Liverpool. I am happy here and there is a project under way. I have been here for five years and [if I was to stay] from now on things would be easier.

“I want a medium or long-term project. I don’t want to be working day to day, always hanging on the latest result, without a programme to follow or an idea to develop over a period of time.

“What I want is hard to find in Spain. Long-term projects do not exist [in Spain], like they do in England. I am young as coaches go and I can’t predict my future.

“Real Madrid are a great club, a very great club, but I am at another wonderful club – one that really motivates me. I will work where I feel I can develop a project.”

Benitez also dismissed criticism of his team’s style of play, and insists it is ‘very difficult’ for Liverpool to compete with title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United.

He added: “Competing with Manchester United and Chelsea is very difficult. I am not a cry-baby, but they have enough money to sign five £20m players and, if one or two of them doesn’t succeed, they have three more.

“I can sign two of them and, if one doesn’t succeed or I make a mistake with one, then you really notice it.

“I have been given a tag that I do not deserve and is not true. I keep saying so, but it doesn’t do any good. Last season we scored 119 goals – more than anyone else in England.

“Liverpool don’t just hoof the ball, as I keep reading and hearing. We have produced some very good performances to get to two Champions League finals and a semi-final in the last four years. We are the best team in Europe over the last five years.”

The biggest game of the Premiership season so far sees Liverpool take on Manchester United at Old Trafford, where the Champions are unbeaten all season – Can Rafa’s side close the gap at the top?

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