Knocked down Devils seeing Reds

inspired by a certain Frenchman called Eric Cantona -- pipped Sir Alex Ferguson's team to the league championship. Ironically, the killer blow, which confirmed the title for Leeds, was inflicted by Liverpool in a 2-0 defeat at Anfield later that season.

So what are the chances of another cataclysmic collapse at Old Trafford in the wake of Liverpool's awesome 4-1 romp against their bitter rivals on Saturday?

The only story before the game was about how United would win the match, open up a ten-point lead over Rafael Benitez's men and take another giant stride towards claiming their eighteenth league title and thereby equaling Liverpool's all-time English record.

But maybe Saturday's hammering will spark the wobbles within the United dressing-room and open the door for either Liverpool or Chelsea to snatch the Premier League trophy from United's grasp.

It's a long-shot and only the most one-eyed Scouser will truly expect Liverpool to emerge as top dogs this season, but Benitez's men have now beaten both United and Chelsea home and away this season, so who knows what they can achieve between now and the end of the campaign?

In the space of four days, Liverpool have whacked four goals past both Real Madrid and Manchester United! No matter what else they achieve this season, it is a week that will go down in Anfield's history books.

Even United boss Ferguson, who has spent 23 years eyeing Liverpool as the 'Evil Empire,' was forced to give credit to his age-old rivals after Saturday's result.

He said: "It was one of those days and we made uncharacteristic mistakes. In big games, you don't want to do that and if you see the consistency of our defending over the last two years, you don't expect it.

"But if you win 4-1 at Old Trafford you deserve the plaudits and you can't deny Liverpool that.

"If the league was starting today, though, you would take a four-point advantage with a game in hand. The goal difference is narrowed, it's only five goals now. It was a bad day, but we have to kick on."

In the cold light of day, however, Liverpool's best result at Old Trafford since 1936 is likely to prove little more than a hollow victory -- a win that ultimately delivers nothing but a fond memory for those supporters lucky enough to have been there to witness it.

Barring an incredible loss of form, United will go on to win the title and Liverpool will have to grit their teeth and put up with that.

The real worry for Benitez and his players is that they might just come up against a United team burning for revenge in the Champions League.

Some pundits have suggested that United will now be running scared of the Merseysiders in Europe, but don't believe a word of that.

If the two teams take the field again, in the Champions League Final in Rome or in the stages before that, then which team will have the greater motivation?

Having been humiliated in front of their own supporters, Ferguson's players will be like men possessed if they come up against Liverpool again. Beating United twice in a season is some achievement -- doing it three times? That would be something else.

Liverpool would not lack confidence, though. They know that they have the beating of United and, in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, possess perhaps the best players in the world in their positions.

But will they be so fortunate as to face Nemanja Vidic on such a bad day again and would Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez be so subdued if they meet again?

Whatever the verdict, the whole world will be desperate to see the Premier League's two superpowers collide again this season.

The draw for the Champions League 'Road to Rome' takes place in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday and Manchester and Merseyside is bracing itself for a European encounter between the two clubs.

But if it happens, don't expect Liverpool to be worried.

Manager Benitez said: "We have beaten Real Madrid and Manchester United in the same week. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody."

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