Liverpool have upper hand over Manchester City in title race, says Emile Heskey
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Last Updated: 18/03/19 3:13pm
Emile Heskey says Liverpool have the upper hand over Manchester City in the Premier League title race, but says the defending champions have the advantage of experience on their side.
Liverpool went top of the Premier League on Sunday when they beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage, and are now two points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Liverpool and Manchester City have been neck and neck throughout the season, and with just seven games remaining for Jurgen Klopp's side and eight for City, Heskey says the Reds will be relieved to have left south west London with three points.
"A lot of teams are expecting Liverpool to go and score five or six goals, but Fulham are fighting for their lives as well," Heskey told Sky Sports News.
"I'm guessing they're already gone, but it's about pride; to play against Liverpool and to get a result would be good, especially for Scott Parker.
"Within football you have games where you're not going to be playing the best, but it's about winning ugly. This was one of those games."
Heskey says despite City's game in hand, Liverpool hold the advantage going into the international break.
"Psychologically it's very important," Heskey said of Liverpool's lead. "As you saw before, they were always having to chase Manchester City, they were always trying to stay ahead. Now they've got the upper hand.
"It's better to have the points in hand rather than having to go out there and fight for it.
"Manchester City have got to go into the next game knowing that they need to win that game, putting the pressure back on them and seeing how they fare with that pressure."
The former England international says some teams enjoy chasing the league leaders, and believes City are one of those teams.
"Manchester City seem to flourish in that sense - they have done, anyway," he added. "They've got players who really want to battle for that, but they have to still go out there and do it."
The 41-year-old says Pep Guardiola's side are familiar with the pressure of going for a title, having succeeded in their quest last season.
"You saw it with Manchester United the years when I was playing; year after year doing it, knowing what it takes when you get to a certain stage during the season, knowing what it takes to actually keep in there and keep pumping out those results."
Mane is Liverpool's key man now
As Mohamed Salah's form has dipped, Sadio Mane has stepped up for Liverpool in the title run-in.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are chasing a title win that has eluded them for almost 30 years. Heskey says there is pressure on this Liverpool squad to deliver, but that it is no different from pressure felt elsewhere.
"There's going to be an expectation - there's an expectation when you're at all big clubs," said Heskey. "There's an expectation for all of them to actually go out there and be winning every week, and the players understand that; the players know that, the players are aware of that. That pressure brings the best out of you at times.
"It's a massive chance for them to be put down as legends. It's a great time for the club."
One of the stars for Liverpool last season was Mo Salah, who this season is struggling for the same goal-scoring form, and Heskey says the Egypt international is guilty of forcing things in his efforts.
"He's still got 17 goals, so he's not having that bad a season but he's probably just trying a little bit too hard.
"He's looking at the season before when he was scoring all these goals, confidence was high, things were ricocheting then going in.
"He's not getting that luck now, but he still wants to get the goals and everyone is still looking at him as that go-to guy for the goals.
"There's times when he should be passing the ball but he's wanting to score himself. That is the danger.
"When you're going through that patch you need the balance. You need to know when to pass the ball, when to take the shot.
"You've got to remember we were talking of him last season in the same vein as [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, so he's probably got that in his head as well, so he wants to be scoring the goals like they are."
Sadio Mane continued his impressive showings for Klopp's side by scoring the opening goal against Fulham.
"It's a blessing for Liverpool isn't it, that they have someone of his stature - someone of his ability - to step in to the plate where Salah has failed to produce," said Heskey. "He's such a dynamic, quick player.
"If you look at the season before, he went through little spells where he was scoring three goals, four goals, but now he seems to be making it more consistent."