Fernando Torres has admitted Manchester United are now "clear favourites" to retain their Premier League crown following their demolition of Chelsea and Liverpool's stalemate at Stoke City.
Speaking after being voted into third place behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in FIFA's World Player of the Year poll, the 24-year-old insisted Liverpool still have a great chance to win the title for the first time since 1990 despite handing an advantage to United in poll position.
The Old Trafford club will go to the top of the table for the first time this season if they win at home to Wigan Athletic on Wednesday night and also beat West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
"They are world and European champions," Torres said. "We respect them totally for the class of players they have. Many of them are among the best in the world and they're clear favourites to win the title.
"But we're working hard to compete and finish above them and we're on course."
Liverpool have drawn five of their last eight league matches and after Rafael Benitez's amazing outburst against United boss Sir Alex Ferguson last Friday many are starting to believe that the wheels are coming off the Anfield club's title challenge.
Torres believes that the title may be decided when the two clubs meet at Old Trafford in March.
"I think the game at Old Trafford will decide the title," Torres added. "If everything goes as we expect, we think we'll go there in a similar position to the one we are in now.
"Then it will be up to us to play our game and try to get a result in a ground that, in the past few years, has not been good for Liverpool.
"We know the chances we have. We have to go to Old Trafford and we'll play Arsenal and Chelsea at home."
Torres also disputed claims that he and Robbie Keane have struggled to form an effective partnership for Liverpool.
He said: "Yes, sure we can play together - but the boss decides, he's the manager and he's a fantastic manager.
"Sometimes not all the players can play together in the same team. But I have played with Robbie a lot of times and we've scored goals when we've played together.
"I think we are going to play together, depending on the game.''
Torres admitted he is desperate to make an impact on the season after a frustrating first half of the campaign.
He added: "I feel much better, and I hope to come back to play in the first XI as soon as possible. Then I can forget the injuries and start to play again for Liverpool who are in a very good position this year.
"I don't know if I can play 90 minutes yet but for sure I can be in the squad, but of course I want to be in the first XI.
"I didn't do pre-season properly after the Euros, the season started too soon and you are trying to keep the best physical stamina but it's difficult when you have to play three games a week. Now I want to stay a perfect 100%, and not get injured again.''
The 24-year-old denied that Liverpool were going through a sticky patch and in doing so allowing Manchester United to catch back up.
Torres said: "I don't think so, and we now have two derbies which are big games for the city and for Liverpool.
"If we can win the derby in the league we can stay in first position and then afterwards if we win again in the FA Cup it gives us a lot confidence. I think two consecutive derbies is not a bad moment for Liverpool.
"We are top of the table and we have to enjoy that.''