Liverpool can end Manchester City's title hopes with point at Etihad, says Paul Merson

Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates putting Liverpool 3-0 up
Image: Mo Salah has six goals in his last five league games

Manchester City's bid to retain the Premier League title will be over if they do not beat Liverpool on Thursday, says Paul Merson.

City are seven points behind their visitors with another 18 games to play before the end of the season - and the gap would increase to 10 if Liverpool were to win when the two go head-to-head at the Etihad, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on January 3.

However, Merson believes Liverpool's domestic dominance in 2018/19 means even a draw would not be enough for Pep Guardiola's side to stay in the race to win the Premier League.

He said: "If Liverpool don't lose at Man City, then that rules City out of the title race. They will be seven points behind if they draw that. Liverpool are unbeaten, and would have to lose three matches before the end of the season - no chance.

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Man City's defeat at Leicester on Boxing Day was their third in four games

"This is a Liverpool team that score plenty of goals and don't let in any goals. They are relentless. Even if they are having a bad day, they only need one goal. They don't have to be like Man City and win by three goals. They just get the job done and only need one.

"To beat them you are going to have to score twice, which is a tall order. I don't see anyone beating them 1-0. As the season goes on, with the Champions League coming back, it does mount up.

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"If I was Liverpool I would forget about the Champions League now. They have a chance of making history, where they would all go down as legends after 29 years. They need to put all their eggs in one basket."

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City began the season going 15 games unbeaten, but Merson said three defeats from their last five league matches has had a serious effect on their confidence.

Pep Guardiola's side have fallen seven points short in the race for the title
Image: Pep Guardiola's side have fallen seven points behind in the race for the title

He said: "Manchester City have lost that ruthlessness about them. They're missing good chances now, I don't know if the nerves have got to them, the pressure is on them but you look at the other week against Leicester. Sergio Aguero flicked one over the bar, he had another which was an air-shot - that's not him.

"You watched them against Southampton, under severe pressure, they ripped them apart. It could have been 5-0 after 15 or 20 minutes.

Sergio Aguero during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium
Image: Sergio Aguero drew a blank against Leicester before returning to form at Southampton.

"But when City got in front and couldn't get a second one, the players start thinking 'this is easy,' and then for 15 minutes or so they're all over the shop.

"Raheem Sterling's taking eight touches instead of passing, Riyad Mahrez is cutting inside and has a shot himself when he should pass, they're all doing their own thing.

"When you've lost three out of five games, something is going on and your confidence gets majorly dented."

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