Former Arsenal star: Title pressure getting to Liverpool!

Paul Merson believes Brandan Rodgers et al are beginning to crack in race for this year's Premier League title, contested with Chelsea & Manchester City.

"I saw enough in Liverpool's game with Sunderland on Wednesday to suggest the title pressure is getting to them," asserted two-time title winner Paul Merson in his Sky Sports column.

Manager Brendan Rodgers had, prior to the 2-1 triumph over the Black Cats, played down his team's chances for this year's crown by explaining that he did indeed see the Reds as worthy of being champions but that they would most likely only be ready next season, rather than this.

Steven Gerrard opened Liverpool's goal-scoring account on March 26 with a curling effort from a dead-ball situation, before Daniel Sturridge doubled the club's lead. However, Sunderland came back with a vengeance via Ki Sung-Yueng, forcing the Reds into a gut-check examination - which they passed by holding out for the win.

While some pundits and analysts commended Liverpool for grinding out the victory and maintaining their pursuit of Premier League honours, Merson believes it could spark a concerning trend - namely that they are beginning to crack.

"They were okay in the first 30 games because nobody was really talking about them; they could score goals for fun and people were just talking about them getting in the top four.

"All of a sudden they are in the title picture and it's so different to play like that. A lot will depend on how they handle the nerves. Chelsea and Manchester City both play on Saturday, so they may need to win this game just to stay where they were - and that's a disadvantage."

Liverpool are on an exceptional run of form. Not only have they won seven Premier League matches in a row, they have also won 11 and drawn one from their last dozen league games at Anfield, a venue Daniel Sturridge revels in as he has scored 11 goals in his 11 home appearances thus far this season.

Liverpool continue their campaign for honours on Sunday, against Tottenham Hotspur and while Merson predicts a 2-1 home win for the Reds, he does not envisage an easy ride against the Spurs: "This will be a hard game for them, particularly if Emmanuel Adebayor is fit because he's got a lot of pace and Liverpool's defence is not the best.

"I think Roberto Soldado is a good player, but if he plays then they won't have as much threat over the top - and that will allow Liverpool to squeeze and suffocate the game and win easily. I don't think this will be that easy however, and I think Liverpool will just about keep this title push going."

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