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Vidic aware of responsibility

Nemanja Vidic is acutely aware the eyes of the world will be on Manchester United and Liverpool at Anfield this Sunday.

United's trip to Merseyside is always a highlight in the domestic calendar.

The tension will be even greater this time around as it is Liverpool's first home game since the damning judgement on the deaths of 96 fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough was delivered last week.

No-one needs any reminding Hillsborough has been used by some United fans to bait their Liverpool counterparts over the years, just as Munich has for the Merseyside giants.

Appeals for calm have already been delivered by Sir Alex Ferguson and also respected United fans' groups, who felt it necessary to speak out in the wake of chants heard at Old Trafford last Saturday.

And with the stand-off between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra also still to be resolved, Vidic accepts it will be a major test for all concerned.

"I am aware of the sensitivity of the day. Everybody is," said the United skipper. "All over the world they will be watching this game. It is probably the biggest derby and we have to show we are capable of keeping a good atmosphere and being a good example to the kids.

"We both have a history and we're both respected. We have to keep it like that.

"It is difficult to control all the fans but most of them are aware of the responsibility and I think they will respond well."

United need to maintain their focus as they attempt to end a five-game sequence without a win at Anfield, their worst run for over two decades.

Bizarrely, the period has coincided with Liverpool's slump in fortunes.

Brendan Rodgers' summer arrival is yet to trigger any notable improvement, and his side head into the weekend fixture with only two points, precariously placed just above the relegation zone.

Yet Vidic believes that makes Liverpool dangerous opponents, keen to land a blow on a major rival to improve their own status.

"Over the last few years we have gone there when we have been chasing the title and they are always behind," he said.

"Sometimes that game is everything for them as it is a chance to prove they are a good team. Maybe they are stronger because of that.

"We should be thinking the same and go there to prove we are a good team."

As Vidic noted, Rodgers is trying to implement a new passing style on the Liverpool squad, although with a chronic lack of strikers following Andy Carroll's loan move to West Ham, the process is not proving easy.

United are simply aiming to maintain high standards after their own stuttering start.

"We cannot afford to drop any points," said Vidic.

"At the start of the season you don't want to drop points and be too far away from other teams like Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.

"Being solid is always the key thing at Anfield. It is a tight pitch, so we have to defend well because we have players who can score goals."

Back-to-back clean sheets has bolstered confidence, although, as Vidic admitted, he was fortunate to get away with a penalty box foul on Umut Bulut during last night's win over Galatasaray.

"I did concede the penalty," he said. "I hit the player's leg after the ball and it was difficult for the referee to see that.

"It was lucky. We made a few mistakes that they didn't punish.

"But overall we were the better team and we will improve for the next game."

Sir Alex Ferguson must now sort out his starting line-up for the Anfield trip.

Rio Ferdinand is expected to be recalled as Vidic's defensive partner, whilst Paul Scholes' involvement in the last two games suggest the best he can hope for is a place on the bench.

That means either Tom Cleverley or Ryan Giggs will occupy the central midfield role, whilst David de Gea's fine double save last night has at least provided Ferguson with some food for thought as he ponders whether to draft Anders Lindegaard back in.