Gary Neville believes Liverpool will find it “a real struggle” to prevent Premier League title “favourites” Manchester City from defending their crown.
City and Liverpool are level on points at the top of the Premier League, with the former enjoying a far greater goal difference.
Liverpool have a game in hand on their rivals however, but Neville still believes City are “definitely favourites” after their 6-0 demolition of Chelsea on Sunday.
The Sky Sports pundit believes Liverpool will find it “a real struggle” to keep the pace.
“Manchester City have set themselves a standard in the last week,” he told the Gary Neville podcast.
“If they are going to win the league they need to maintain that standard every week because they can’t afford to make mistakes.
“Liverpool are a very good side and they will realise they are in for a major battle. Liverpool were seven points ahead a few weeks ago, but now City are definitely favourites for the title from what I am seeing.
“Sergio Aguero has lifted City in the last month. He has grabbed games by the scruff of the neck and has been a champion player. He is standing up. If City are going to win back-to-back titles I think they can look towards the last month and think about his influence, he has been outstanding.
“If you look at the size of Liverpool and the fact they haven’t won the title in so long, there is an air of desperation at the club to win the title. A few weeks ago they were seven points clear and when Manchester City lost at Newcastle you thought it was there – what an opportunity for Liverpool that was. They still have that chance, but it has become a lot more difficult in the last week.
“What will happen in Merseyside, as it did in Manchester all those years ago, is you will be walking down the street and people will be saying ‘I think we can do it, go on let’s do it this year’. You can be walking down the street, having a break and relaxing, and then all of a sudden your mind gets thrown back to the title and you can’t get away from it. It just hits you every minute of every day.
“I remember those first years going for titles and the weight of expectation and thinking ‘we have to try to get over the line’ and you carry it with you every minute of every day. It becomes psychological and you get tension with it and get a bit more closed and safer with your passing and don’t play with the same freedom. That’s where you need experience.
“I remember when Blackburn got over the line in 1994/95, they had a bit of a lead and they just got over the line in the end. I think that’s how it will have to be for Liverpool. They need to hang in there and hope City’s fixtures pile up and become a problem and then they can capitalise.
“It will be a real struggle for Liverpool to win the league, but it always was going to be, so this is not something new.
“I think in the last week the race has really started. We are on the home stretch.”