Belfast Telegraph

All pressure is on City in title race, insists Garcia

 

By Carl Markham

Former Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia believes all the pressure will remain on Manchester City while they are still behind in the title race.

Jurgen Klopp's side are four points clear of the defending champions with 15 matches remaining, although their inexperience in this situation compared to their rivals is being suggested as a potentially decisive factor.

However, Liverpool have dropped just nine points this season and their only defeat came at City, who have lost three times already in letting 13 points slip, so it is Pep Guardiola's side playing catch-up.

"At the start of the season, we would have taken being top of the table at this stage," Garcia said. "If they are still there going into the last five games, there is every chance to get the trophy.

"The pressure is on the teams behind them because when you are up front it is important you continue winning the next game and you don't think about it.

"The chasing teams think about what it will be like if they fail and that is a lot of pressure."

Fellow midfielder Vladimir Smicer, who, like his fellow Champions League winner, will be lining up at Anfield for a repeat of the 2005 final in Istanbul, believes Klopp's side are different to the ones who failed to deliver the title in the last 29 years.

"It is a long wait for the title but you can't plan when you win," he said. "The Liverpool players have the feeling this year they can go all the way. That would make me happy.

"We are so good offensively, anyone can score and, after adding some very important players - the goalkeeper (Alisson Becker) for example - all these steps make the team better.

"Klopp keeps his best players and adds Fabinho, (Xherdan) Shaqiri and (Naby) Keita to make the team better. It seems they are happy and feel there is a real chance to win the league."

Opinions on Mohamed Salah appear to be starting to shift this season.

Everyone marvelled at the Egypt international's feat in scoring 44 goals last season but with allegations of diving now being levelled against him it seems that his fan club - along with his goals - has reduced.

Salah is still the Premier League's leading scorer with 16, in an overall tally of 18, and while he will be short of replicating last season's feats, Garcia believes he still poses the greatest threat to opposition defences.

"We all know what he is capable of and even though at the start of the season he maybe wasn't getting as many goals, now he is a player who everyone is looking at," added Garcia.

"His role has changed and now he plays in the middle as well as the right.

"It is not the same situation as last year when people couldn't see or didn't know what Salah could offer to the team.

"He is doing a great job, scoring goals with a lot of assists and he is dangerous every game."

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