Manchester United-Liverpool: The Battle Is Over, Now Back to the War

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst IMarch 17, 2009

On a warm autumn evening just three nights ago, I was in the company of a few friends when we set out for the local pub to catch one of the classic matchups of the modern age of football.

There is something special in the air when Manchester United meets Liverpool, that sets it apart from many games in world football.

The intense rivalry is built on respective periods of dominance of Europe and England, and the massive interest in both clubs across the globe. 

As I watched the game unfold, I could not believe my eyes as United was played off the Old Trafford pitch in a style they have not been in many many years.

In fact, the last time I can recall watching a game in which United was so soundly spanked at home was in 1991 when they were trounced 3-0 by Everton, who were inspired by a certain Peter Beardsley, who may just have had a wry smile on his face when he saw this game unfold.

Funnily enough they went on that season to win the league for the first time in 27 years.

Funny how things pan out in the long run.

The strangest observation from pundits and fans alike in the aftermath of Saturdays match, is that many people have suddenly decided the title race is back on when there are only 10 games left for United and nine for their closest rivals.

The aura of invincibility has been smashed to pieces, there is no doubting that.

But United still has a four point lead, and a game in hand that many would consider to be three points for the taking (mind you look where that sort of presumption can lead).

In the next two games they have what could potentially be two of the toughest fixtures on their list, or two of the easiest.

United is a proud club and the manner of Saturdays defeat will have left many angry, sore, and eager for vengeance. The game at Craven Cottage is being talked up by some as a chance for the chasing pack to gain further ground as Fulham has been more than capable on their home turf this season.

Again, no one really knows the outcome of a fixture until the whistle blows at the end of 90 minutes, but it may just be that United have been energized by the weekends embarrassment to take their football up another notch.

I would not be surprised to see such a development.

After this match, they have Villa at home—which again could potentially be a very difficult fixture if Villa is able to play a bit of football.

But then again, they played a bit in the weekend but forgot to score the goals and Spurs dutifully supplied the bulges in the back of the net.

Villa's inconsistency over the years seems to have really come back to haunt them in the run in, and it would be a brave better who would favor them to hold onto fourth over a seemingly revitalized Arsenal.

If after these two games they are in a worse position than they are now then it could be that the title race is back on, or it could be that it is over, such is the strange nature of the game and also one of the reasons we all love it so much.