As part of our celebrations of Liverpool FC's 125th anniversary year, we have asked several esteemed writers to offer their view on what exactly makes the club so special.

The second piece in our series comes from ESPN's senior football writer Mark Ogden, who ruminates on the Reds' long-running rivalries with Manchester United and Everton.

Most clubs have just one direct rival to compete against for bragging rights, but no matter how many Liverpool supporters you ask to nominate which team gets under their skin more than any other, you will never get a consensus to suggest that Everton or Manchester United has the edge as public enemy number one at Anfield.

Everton are always there, in every street, every work-place, every classroom and every pub in the city, perhaps in every family.

They should be the team that every Liverpudlian wants to beat, the one whose defeats and disappointments brings most satisfaction to the Kop, but United are the itch that always needs to be scratched, despite the absolute lack of any Red Devil shirts walking down Queen’s Drive or around Albert Dock.

They are not from the same city and they have their own neighbourhood disputes with blue-shirted rivals on their own doorstep, but the rivalry with United is as intense as that with Everton, even if there is a difference.

With Everton, it is local pride as the dominant team in the city, but with United, it is about so much more.

It is about the rivalry between two great cities, about music, about trade, about ships, but also about trophies, global popularity, the magnificent sevens of Dalglish and Cantona, Paisley versus Ferguson – Scousers versus Mancs.

But despite all that, when Everton face Liverpool, the dilemma surfaces again – who are the biggest rivals? United or Everton?

Other clubs have had their periods of jostling for position with United and Everton at the top of that list – Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, in the mid-2000s, were a constant foe, with the rivalry being played out in seismic Champions League ties.

Arsenal became a threat and source of irritation on the Kop in the late-1980s, Leeds United competed in Yorkshire-Lancashire battles with Liverpool in the 1960s and 1970s, while Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest still antagonise Liverpool supporters of a certain generation.

But nothing has endured quite like the rivalries with United and Everton and, throughout the football world, the only Premier League game that truly stops the clocks in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Cape Town, Santiago and the rest is Liverpool versus United.

Everton matters within the city, but not since that golden period in the 1980s has it truly mattered on a national scale.

The Liverpool-United game always matters because one, if not both, are usually chasing the major honours and the second-best feeling to winning something is stopping the other lot winning it themselves.

United fans still talk about scuppering Liverpool’s Treble hopes with an FA Cup final win in 1977, while few Liverpool supporters will ever forget the glee that came with ending United’s league championship dream in April 1992, when even Ian Rush scored against the team that had always stopped him hitting the back of the net.

Eric Cantona’s double-winning goal in the 1996 FA Cup Final – remember those white suits – capped a miserable day for Liverpool, but two League Cup final victories have helped to redress the balance.

United have their 20 league championships, Liverpool have their five European Cups. United have the Nou Camp in 1999, but Liverpool have Istanbul.

Back in 1910, when United proudly opened their new stadium at Old Trafford, it had to be Liverpool who spoiled the party with a 4-3 victory in the first game and, 107 years on, the battle for supremacy continues undimmed.

Just imagine Moscow in 2008, had Liverpool made it past Chelsea to face United in the Champions League final. Imagine the tension and excruciating agony of defeat – a defeat that neither set of supporters would ever be able to live down or forget.

But there is something reassuring about a rivalry which sees Sir Alex Ferguson refuse to even consider selling Gabriel Heinze to Liverpool in 2007, or one which prompted Steven Gerrard to dismiss out of hand the prospect of signing for United when Ferguson tried to lure him to Old Trafford. "I obviously refused," Gerrard later admitted.

Players have moved between Anfield and Goodison Park regularly over the years – Peter Beardsley, Gary Ablett, Nick Barmby some of the most recent – while even Barcelona and Real Madrid and Inter Milan and AC Milan have happily sold to one another.

But no player has moved between United and Liverpool since Phil Chisnall arrived at Anfield from Old Trafford in 1964.

Little wonder, then, that Paul Ince and Michael Owen divide opinion so greatly in Manchester and Liverpool after daring to wear the red shirts of both clubs.

But despite all of the enmity and hostility, the European history and success and fans in every corner of the globe, United v Liverpool is still eclipsed by Everton v Liverpool in the eyes of some.

But whichever team really is the biggest rival, winning and losing would not be the same if one of them wasn’t around.