Football

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Possible if Liverpool prove their mettle in three key home games against Spurs, City and Chelsea

REPORTING FROM THE UK

LIVERPOOL v TOTTENHAM

(Tomorrow, 11pm, SingTel mio TV CH 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)

This is it for Liverpool now. This is their time.

This is where the whole season will be decided.

Starting with Tottenham tomorrow and then every week until failure or glory.

This football club have blown away their critics and their doubters, they have baffled the experts and delighted their own fans.

From seventh place last season, with no Sugar Daddy-inspired summer or winter spending, Liverpool are in the title race.

Even their most myopic enemies could not deny that. But how will they react to the pressure?

There is nothing like the scrutiny of a title challenge.

For the first three quarters of a season, teams can afford to lose games.

They do not wish to, they do everything they can to avoid it, but an individual defeat is rarely seen as a disaster.

In the run-in, however, every single point counts and the pressure can consume players and spit them back out again.

Are Liverpool's players ready? 

Of the team that beat Sunderland 2-1 in midweek, only Glen Johnson has been a significant part of a Premier League winning team, back with Chelsea in 2005.

Daniel Sturridge played a bit part in Chelsea's 2010 side, scoring a single goal for the Blues that year.

Luis Suarez has won two titles, one for Nacional in Uruguay, another for Ajax in Holland.

Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard have come close and fallen short.

The rest have never come close. Will they be able to survive the pressure cooker?

Tottenham represent the first of three enormous challenges.

Defeat Tim Sherwood's team and attention will shift to the match against Manchester City on April 13.

Win that, and it's all eyes on Anfield for April 27 when current leaders Chelsea come to town.

Right now, Liverpool seem certain that they can defeat anyone, simply by charging at them and unloading both barrels.

But lose one, and the wall of belief that protects them will crumble to the ground.

No one has any doubt that Liverpool are good enough.

But are they strong enough?

Liverpool have two factors in the favour.

Firstly, that they will play these games in front of their own supporters. But their own supporters will need to be there for them.

There cannot be the kind of audible groans that greet Arsenal players whenever a pass goes astray.

The crowd must recognise that for all of their goals, they are still outsiders and they still need the positivity of the Kop. 

RODGERS FACTOR

Secondly, they have Brendan Rodgers and, thus far at least, he has played his hand perfectly.

Unlike Gerard Houllier, who piled pressure on his own players by describing them as being, "10 games from greatness", Rodgers has refused to get carried away.

He constantly acknowledges that the title is possible, but that every game must be approached as an individual challenge.

He remains positive, publicly and privately, and has even managed to temper his love of management-speak burble.

Press conferences with Rodgers can be rambling affairs as a man who clearly adores the science of the sport gets carried away with the sound of his own voice, but no longer. 

Make no mistake, Liverpool are not filler, they are not there to make up the numbers.

They are genuine contenders with an attack of which any team in Europe would be envious.

They are weak at the back, there are doubts about Simon Mignolet's aerial ability and they do not boast the squad depth of Manchester City or Chelsea. But they are still in it. 

A win against Tottenham tomorrow will make that point abundantly clear.