Suggestions that Liverpool have benefited from low expectations are wide of the mark

Brendan Rodgers

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson is the latest person to say Liverpool will struggle in the Premier League title race as they are now expected to win games.

Merson believes Liverpool will find it difficult to cope with the newfound pressure as the season reaches it's business end.

Along with a smattering of journalists he has said that given Liverpool were only expected to challenge for, let alone guarantee, a top four place for most of the season, it has indirectly enabled them to go into matches with nothing to lose.

That, in other words, would infer Liverpool's title charge thus far is due to playing without debilitating factors which may otherwise have weighed heavy on the players' shoulders. The logic then follows that these individuals could play with freedom and no fear, and with no limit to how they could express themselves. The natural result seeing more victories and points on the board than first imagined.

Now though, Liverpool are supposedly starting to suffer from nerves, unable to handle the favourites tag. The marginal 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Wednesday the supporting evidence.

What this fails to take into account however is that Liverpool have been in a title race for quite some time. If we recall correctly, David Moyes said the Reds were expected to win at Old Trafford given their respective league position in the table. Did Brendan Rodgers' side wilt under the subsequent pressure when the two sides met? No. An emphatic 3-0 win merely confirmed Liverpool as the real deal.

The argument that the Anfield club have done so well this season because of no one viewing at them as a threat is unconvincing. Liverpool have been in exactly the same situation for the last few years, but did they flourish as a result?

Of course not. Finishing 6th, 8th and 7th over three seasons show that there was plenty of time for them to benefit from low expectation, catch teams off guard and make a surprise run to the top four, never mind top spot.

In reality Liverpool's great form this season is more to do with Brendan Rodgers' ideas taking a greater hold with the players and their belief in him growing as a consequence. Training ground work, granted further time in light of Liverpool's absence from Europe altogether, is the key to it all. But that is too boring for some of the media and ex-players.

Predicting the future is obviously difficult but Liverpool have shown enough already that they can handle the pressure just fine and therefore there is no reason to suggest they won't be able to in the title shake-up. Or for years to come for that matter.

Do you agree that Liverpool have benefited from low expectations this season?

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch