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Manchester United’s Fellaini defends himself against “thug” accusations

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United challenges Jordon Ibe of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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Marouane Fellaini plays the game hard.

He knows that, but the big Belgian won’t go as far as to admit to playing dirty.

[ LVG: Top Four hopes hinge on Sunday’s derby ]

Fellaini, 28, has come under fire for incidents in Manchester United’s loss to Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League.

From the BBC:

“I don’t want to elbow someone, I just defend myself. I am physical. I like to win my challenge. That’s English football as well, but I am not a dirty player.”

In the first leg, Fellaini caught Emre Can with a high elbow, and used the same body part against Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino in the second leg.

Those had former Premier League referee Howard Webb branding Fellaini “a thug”. The player rejects that.

“If you want to win the game, you have to be aggressive. You have to win your challenge. I never want to injure a player or be bad, not like that. I just defend myself.”

There’s a bit of humor in the fact that Webb has long been considered biased toward Manchester United, but he has a point with Fellaini. He plays on the edge, for sure, and the first Can incident is especially nefarious.

Follow @NicholasMendola