Is title race back on after Liverpool’s victory?
Liverpool’s thrashing of the English and European champions at Old Trafford on Saturday has ensured that the title race isn’t quite over yet.
Goals from Torres, Gerrard, Aurelio and Dossena secured a memorable victory for the Anfield club at ‘the theatre of dreams’.
Ferguson maintained that his team had played the better football on the day. When Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot after Park was brought down by Reina in the penalty box, the title race looked dead and buried.
However Liverpool once again showed their resilience by coming from behind to breath new life into their challenge. Inspired by the electrifying Torres, Liverpool thrived on the mistakes made by the blundering Vidic in United’s defence.
Vidic, who has been United’s best player this season was made to look average by Torres. United’s seemingly untouchable defence crumbled. It was a testament to how well Liverpool played on the day.
Yet despite their defiant performance against United, Liverpool still find themselves four points off the pace, with Ferguson’s team also having a game in hand. It begs the question: with victories home and away over Manchester United and Chelsea, why aren’t Liverpool closer to United at the top?
The loss of Torres at various stages of the season has severely hampered their performances. When Gerrard and Torres play together fully fit, they are virtually unplayable. Gerrard has also suffered from injuries this season.
Robbie Keane didn’t fulfill his potential at the club. He was unable to provide the goals needed when Torres was out injured. Benitez may be at fault for not allowing Keane a sustained run in the team but one can’t argue that Keane failed to set the Kop alight after some mediocre performances.
The mind-set of Benitez is also questionable. Ferguson sets his team out to go and beat sides, no matter who the opposition is. Benitez likes to employ the tactic of choosing a team set out not to lose. He can be accused of being too negative against teams that Liverpool should expect to beat comfortably.
For years under the wily Spaniard, Liverpool’s achilles heel was their away form. Whilst they enjoyed an impeccable home record. This year the problem has been their inability to break down teams at home.
In a season where none of the big four have set the footballing world alight, Liverpool fans will feel that the title was their for the taking. Manchester United have built their success this season on defence.
During their previous two title successes, United played great attacking football, with Ronaldo the spearhead of their potent strike force. This year it has been the likes of Van Der Saar, Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra who deserve the plaudits.
So with nine games to go it seems unlikely that Manchester United will loosen their grip on the title. A blip, but it may prove to be the catalyst to go on and achieve greater things. The possibility of the quintuple.
I can’t see Alex Ferguson allowing his side to squander such a commanding position. Rafa will have his side ready to pounce on any more slip-ups from United but it would seem that four points and a game in hand is an unassailable lead.