Date:Friday March 13 2009
OK, first of all: I know full well that we haven't actually clinched the league title on April 19, 1997 but that day was as decisive as that cold February afternoon at Old Trafford in 2001 when we blew Arsenal away to go 16 points clear.
Back in 1997 United were two points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand when, with four games to go, the two giants clashed at Anfield. A Liverpool win would have put them top albeit with United having a game in hand.
However, no home win came as United were simply too strong. John Barnes quickly equalised after Pallister's early opener (with an Andy Cole chance squeezed in between) but that was as good as it got for the hosts as we outplayed them.
It looked as though they might strike lucky in the end as United kept missing chances even though Liverpool's defending ranged from the shambolic to the disastrous. The champions were clearly fired up by the atmosphere and their 1-0 defeat at Dortmund in midweek: their passing was sharp and incisive and carved open Liverpool repeatedly.
Of course the referee also played his part, as they always seem to do at Anfield, having failed to award a penalty for a blatant handball by Kvarme but United's attackers had noone to blame but themselves for squandering easy chances.
However, we got some assistance from another source than our own players: David James' hardly unexpected blunder handed us the initiative again after a somewhat difficult few minutes at the end of the first half. Gary Pallister, again, capitalised on the mistake and from that moment United were never going to lose.
The travelling army, obviously, outsang the famous Anfield crowd in the second half, especially after another horrific James mistake allowed Andy Cole to wrap up the points in the 60th minute. We dealt with Roy Evans' men with ease in the remaining half hour while the away support was singing about how we won the league at Merseyside.
And that's what we virtually did: with three games to go for their rivals, United were five points clear with a game in hand. They were never going to relinquish that advantage and to this day we can proudly remember how we won the league at Anfield with a glorious display. Life doesn't get much sweeter than that.
And what's the relevance of this game now? I'm sure you've all figured it out by now...
Date:Friday March 13 2009
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