Of course it was nil-nil. Liverpool came to Anfield for the most spiteful, razor-edged derby in elite-level English football having scored in their last 42 Premier League home games. They took to the field without a single specialist central defender against a free-scoring Manchester United. The week had been shot through with hopeful talk of title charges, Judgment Days and the usual final countdown waffle.
At which point, welcome to the more mannered world of Covid-era football, a stage show that is required to generate its own pulse and where players are asked to alchemise from the empty air the kind of heat and fire that tends to make the difference in a game like this.
So of course it was 0-0, just like United versus Chelsea, United versus City and Chelsea versus Tottenham before it. It turns out these have been real ghost-game casualties of this strange season, collisions between top-of-the-table teams that seem just a little more careful, a little more controlled without the added derangement of voices and shared life from…