Stan Collymore says Liverpool won’t win the Premier League title this season – even if they beat Manchester City 5-0 in their top of the table clash on Thursday.
The Reds currently sit six points clear of second-place Tottenham at the league summit and can extend that lead to nine with a win over the defending champions at the Etihad Stadium.
It’s been tipped as a season-defining game for both clubs, and a Liverpool victory may just give the Reds the confidence to go on and claim their first league title in 29 years.
MORE: Five reasons why Liverpool will be crowned Premier League champions this season
But ahead of the crucial clash, former striker Collymore is unconvinced they can do it.
In his column for the Daily Mirror, the former talkSPORT broadcaster said: “Even if Liverpool were to beat Manchester City 5-0 at the Etihad on Thursday, I’d still have Pep Guardiola’s men down as my favourites to win the title.
“Whether or not it will be enough to win them the title, it’s still too early to tell.
“But if my old club are ten points clear come mid-to-late March or into early April then I might just allow myself to start thinking it really is going to happen.”
Liverpool also travel to Man City hoping to extend their unbeaten start to the league campaign to 21 games.
They will face the defending champions at possibly the best time – they have fallen short of their usual standards in recent weeks, suffering three defeats in four games, and still have a number of keys players missing.
Kevin De Bruyne is a doubt after missing the victory over Southampton with a knock, while both Benjamin Mendy and Fabien Delph are unavailable at left-back, meaning the inexperienced Oleksandr Zinchenko may be called upon to help try and stop the Reds’ world-class front-three.
However, despite their recent struggles, Collymore believes City’s experience of winning the Premier League title will prove crucial.
The former England international added: “City have the capacity and capability to easily put together a run of 15 games unbeaten and while Liverpool themselves are unbeaten in 20 Premier League matches, it still nags me that a ten-point lead — as it would be by Friday — could quickly be eroded with so much football still to be played.
Premier League news on talkSPORT.com
Sarri plays down Higuain links and talks up Chelsea's need for a winger
PU ARE You?
'I play a similar style to Reus' – Why Chelsea have spent £58m on Pulisic
Chelsea sign Christian Pulisic for £58m with winger returning to Dortmund on loan
Chelsea's line-up at end of January with Hummels, Fekir and a new striker?
talkSPORT Super Computer: Final Premier League table predicted
New Year's resolution
Arsenal news: Unai Emery plots defensive improvement in 2019
Fulham close in Chelsea's Cahill after Arsenal deny discussions over deal
Tottenham should be forced to play at Wembley until end of season, rival boss says
“City have had their wobble now and we know they have such a good squad. Liverpool, on the other hand, haven’t encountered any problems yet this season and we don’t know how they will respond when the inevitable slip does come. Positively, I’d imagine, but none of us can say for sure.
“I know Klopp doesn’t believe Liverpool’s lack of title-winning experience counts against them, but I’m not so sure.
“City know how to close out a season and know they’re capable of doing it, so the pressures on whichever side is leading in March or April will be significantly different.
“For City, it will only come from within and, while that’s still a big pressure, it’s not the same sort of weight Liverpool would encounter as they closed in on the club’s first title since 1990, with it coming from every angle.
“Spotlights will be turned on Liverpool’s players from all corners of the globe and no one can say with any certainty that they will respond in the best possible way. Hopefully, they will.
“What I can say for sure at this stage of the season is that I prefer watching Liverpool at their best to City at theirs.”