Liverpool are no longer favourites to hang on to their Premier League title, but I don’t believe Manchester United are the team most likely to dethrone them.
United will move six points ahead of Liverpool if they end the long unbeaten run of Jurgen Klopp’s champions at Anfield today.
And while that outcome is possible, I still don’t believe their manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or his team are good enough to go all the way this season.
For me, Manchester City are now the firm favourites to end this strange season as champions and, as a Liverpool man, I write that with a heavy heart.
Yet it is impossible to ignore the reality of the situation Liverpool manager Klopp finds himself in right now.
As we may see once again this afternoon, Liverpool are embarking on a near-impossible mission to win the league with just one senior defender at the manager’s disposal.
When you consider that the one defender in question is actually a midfielder in Fabinho, it highlights why we should not be surprised by Liverpool’s results in recent weeks.
In fact, it was amazing that Klopp managed to get the team as far into the season without too many hiccups, given the challenges he was facing in the absence of first-choice defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Yet the injuries to those two vital players were always likely to catch up with Liverpool – and we have seen that happening with the draws against West Brom and Newcastle, before the defeat at Southampton in their last league game.
United deserve credit for taking advantage of Liverpool’s slip-ups – and I have to admit Solskjaer has proved me and plenty more wrong by lasting as long as he has in this job.
His team has big flaws that are evident for all to see.
Yet he has found a way to get them winning by making best use of the attacking firepower at his disposal – and now they get their chance to inflict damage on their oldest foes.
While I wouldn’t say Liverpool’s title defence will be over if they are beaten today, it would be a hammer blow and would give United renewed belief they are genuine title contenders.
Up to this point, it has been a fun ride for Solskjaer and United to find themselves back at the top of the Premier League, and their fans have every right to dream about a return to the glory days.
Then you look at the United team coming to Anfield today and ask how many of their players would get into the Liverpool team?
On current form, I’d say three might just make it – and that is only because Liverpool are mired in a poor run of results.
With no defenders to pick from, Harry Maguire would get into the Liverpool side at this moment, but he would be a long way from first choice for Liverpool if Klopp had all his defenders fit.
You would have to put Bruno Fernandes in any Premier League team as he is a class act.
Mind you, his goal tally has been boosted by the ridiculous number of penalties and dodgy VAR calls United seem to get in virtually every game.
Finally, I would pick Marcus Rashford ahead of Roberto Firmino and, possibly, even Mohamed Salah, given his form in the last month.
I’m a big fan of Rashford. His pace and finishing has given Liverpool trouble over the last couple of seasons, so expect him to be one of their big threats today.
Klopp has a huge decision to make at the heart of his defence today and I think he has no choice other than to go with one of either Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips alongside Fabinho.
Jordan Henderson played in defence in the last Premier League game against Southampton and while he could not be faulted for his performance, Liverpool need him in midfield.
I expect Klopp to go with Phillips in defence as he has a little more experience. United will then look to target him by using Rashford’s pace and ability to time his runs to open up Liverpool.
Henderson will have a big role to play in making sure their midfield cannot function as they would want and stopping the creative flair of Fernandes and Paul Pogba has to be a priority for Liverpool today.
I’d expect to see a Liverpool midfield of Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara and, on paper, you’d expect them to win a battle against United’s midfield.
However, Pogba is Manchester United’s wildcard.
On his day, this World Cup winner is a top-class performer, but those days don’t come around often enough for him to be thrown into the category of world-class performers.
Pogba has all the attributes to be a top player as he is physically strong, boasts wonderful ability on the ball and can deliver a killer pass.
But the way he seems to turn his talent on an off like a tap has been a real problem for United.
It looks like his high-profile agent has told him to get his head down for the next few months and, if he performs at his best, the next big-money move he is clearly craving will come this summer.
Something has happened for Pogba as he has clearly rediscovered his focus in recent weeks and that makes him a real threat to Liverpool today.
Yet, for me, the key to this game is how Liverpool’s front three perform. If they get back to the levels we know they are capable of, they can engineer the win that will get their title defence back on track.
Salah and Firmino have been badly off the pace in the last few weeks and, hopefully, Sadio Mane’s goals in the FA Cup win at Aston Villa last Friday gave him a little boost in confidence.
I suspect Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be hoping to see United win at Anfield today, as he will still see Liverpool as the chief threat to his side’s title ambitions.
That’s why this Liverpool versus Manchester United game is as big as any we have seen in recent years.
For the outcome today is likely to set the tone for the rest of the season.
Wayne Rooney's fledgling managerial career has received a cautious endorsement from his former boss, Alex Ferguson, with whom the man now in charge of Derby County once enjoyed what might tactfully be described as a complicated relationship.