Paul Merson has sounded an ominous note for Liverpool, along with the other teams still hoping to wrestle the Premier League title from Manchester City this season, with his latest verdict on the race for the trophy.
The Reds currently hold a two-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side with both teams having played the same number of matches, but the manner in which the reigning champions secured a last-gasp comeback win at Newcastle on Saturday was met with anguish from rival clubs’ fans.
In his latest column for Sky Sports, Merson stated his belief that the Etihad Stadium outfit would go on to put together a prolonged sequence of wins that he thinks none of their competitors could match.
The pundit wrote: “We are at the stage now where there is no room for error for any team trying to wrestle the title from City. Liverpool travel to Arsenal in a couple of weeks and a draw is no good for either side. Usually, you’d say a draw would be a good result for Liverpool at the Emirates, but not now with City in this mood.
“They’ve won their last three games in the league and now with Burnley, Brentford twice, Everton, Chelsea at home, Bournemouth, Man Utd at home before they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool, I can see them winning all those games and there’s your run of 10 successive victories in the league.
“We’ve seen this too many times from City. No-one can string wins together like they do.”
Merson continued: “They [Man City] have had their bad results this season. That will give others hope but at this point of the season, this is when Pep gets them going and we’ve seen this story unfold time and time again with City. City just win, win, win and win, and win some more. That’s the difference.”
As gut-punching as Man City’s stoppage time triumph over Newcastle undoubtedly was, and as ominous as the return of Kevin De Bruyne looks, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Liverpool’s destiny is still in their own hands.
It’d be fair to say that this season’s Reds vintage haven’t always been as slick and convincing as the winning machine that Jurgen Klopp built in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns, but the resilience we’ve shown over the past few months will also have left the likes of City and Arsenal tearing their hair out.
The short-term goal for LFC might be to try and get to 10 March – the probable date for the visit of Guardiola’s side to Anfield, given our Europa League involvement the preceding Thursday – still ahead of the reigning champions, so that even a draw that day would keep us in the driving seat.
Merson is right in saying that the Manchester side have proven capable of reeling off extended winning streaks in the second half of a season – something Liverpool know all too well from the agonising near miss in 2018/19 despite finishing on 97 points – and could well do so again.
Still, unlike last spring when Arsenal’s challenge faded out before the finish line, the Reds have shown that they can go the distance with City in a title race.
If we can continue to show the same defiance which saw us secure late wins against Newcastle, Fulham and Crystal Palace already this term, there’s every reason to believe that we might finally come out on the right side of a tightly-contested bout with Guardiola’s side for domestic supremacy.