Jürgen Klopp is wary his Liverpool side will come up against a "better" and "more confident" Manchester United side when they travel to Old Trafford this Sunday.
The Red Devils have won their last nine games in all competitions while Liverpool have started the new year underwhelming with two draws and a defeat across three different competitions.
The Reds' recent blip has cast some doubt over their ability to last the whole season in the title fight, while United's recent form has seen them talked about as challengers despite remaining 10 points behind league leaders Chelsea.
The last time the two teams met, at Anfield back in October, an in-form Liverpool were widely expected to steam-roll United - though they thwarted when Jose Mourinho's men adopted a reserved approach.
But the feeling of this clash is of complete contrast, and Klopp is well aware that his charges face a rejuvenated United team.
Mkhitaryan form epitomises United's recent improvement, suggests Klopp
He told journalists at his pre-match press conference: "They are better. They are more used to each other, I would say."
The Reds boss cited attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan as "an important example", insisting that it took the Armenian "a little bit of time" to settle in England which he said is "normal."
He added that United can now "use his outstanding quality" and are "more confident", going on to call them "a different side."
"There was no doubt about the quality of the players when they played here," Klopp continued. "But it was not that tuned, maybe. It is [now]. So that's a different thing."
He insisted that United "deserve" their recent run of form and that they had "some very good games" and "the result they expected" but also in others had "a little bit of luck" with "goals in the right moment."
Despite their winning streak, Klopp said Liverpool "always expect the players in the best shape" and then work on "defending them" but admitted that against United "it should be more difficult than against all other teams" which they will "plan" for.
'We are Liverpool, let's show this'
Regardless of the challenge that awaits, the Liverpool manager believes it is an excellent chance for his to prove their quality again.
"We are excited about the opportunity to go there and show our best," he explained. "Of course, both teams are - especially in the long-term - on a good run and in good shape."
Klopp acknowledged that "maybe" United have "a little bit less problems with injuries" but declared that "doesn't mean anything" because Liverpool "can lose against each team" in the Premier League but also "can win against each team" which he said is "the important thing."
The German vowed that despite United's form, "there is this moment before the game when you realise it is this opponent and they are really different to a lot of other teams."
He added: "That's what I think will happen on the one side and on the other side, we will realise earlier before that we are Liverpool. Let's show this. We can be different to each other team in the league and that's what we have to show."
Klopp said that "nobody knows about the result" but said that everybody who wishes to "see a real fight for a result" should watch the game because he is "pretty sure" United will play like that and is "100 per-cent" certain Liverpool will approach the game "from our side", predicting that it will make for an "interesting" match-up.
Reds boss confident his side know what to do to create chances against United
Liverpool could be boosted by the return to the starting line-up of playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Klopp saying that regardless of whether the Brazilian is restored to his eleven or not, the Reds are aware of what they must do to create more opportunities than they have in their last two outings.
Klopp dismissed the idea that his side weren't creative without Coutinho, saying that they "could do it before" because the players "are all important" and it's "not about the players we miss."
He said that Liverpool's problems aren't only "about being patient enough, being clear enough and speeding up in the right moment" but warned that if Liverpool "don't speed up" then "the ball has to speed up."
"The passing needs to be quicker, earlier and all that stuff. That's the situation," Klopp stated, insisting that there has only been "one game" where the Merseyside outfit "didn't create a lot of chances" although he admitted "that was the last one [vs Southampton."
He said that their post-match analysis is "how it is always in life" in that they "have to think about it" if "something doesn't work", asking: "Was it because of [something] or did it only happen? It is a mixture."
Klopp vowed that Liverpool "know what we have to do to create more chances", insisting that they must do so "especially ahead of the United game" because they "don't have to think too much about dominance and all that stuff" and instead "need to think about different things", saying "that's what we've done."