sport news PETER CROUCH: Beat Everton and Liverpool really can start to believe

Peter Crouch is a columnist for Sportsmail

Peter Crouch is a columnist for Sportsmail

What do you think? It's a little question but one I was asked a lot when I was back in Liverpool last week and it's one I expect to hear a lot more before the season ends.

Liverpool might be top of the Premier League but, with 10 games to go, none of their fans are getting carried away with talk of the title.

Don't kid yourself they are saying, 'This is our year', or organising parties in anticipation. By asking, 'What do you think?', people are seeking some kind of reassurance.

It's one of the biggest regrets of my career that the Liverpool team I played in never made a proper title challenge. The three years I spent at Anfield were brilliant and I can imagine what it would have been like had we been in with a chance. The city — well, half of it — would have been insane.

When I left, the title drought had been 18 years. The fact it is now 29 has only heightened emotions. The prize they want most might be shimmering in the distance but nobody will get carried away; nobody wants to get burned again.

You can see the impact it is having on different generations of supporters. My wife Abbey's dad, Geoff, grew up watching Liverpool win league titles every year and conquer Europe. He believes he supports the best team that have ever played the game and he's desperate for it to happen again.

However her younger brother, John, has never seen them finish first. He knows about the glory days, of course, and has heard his dad's stories but he wants his own memories to savour. He's just desperate for Liverpool to win the title, full stop.

Title-chasers Liverpool were on top form on Wednesday as they beat Watford 5-0 at Anfield

Title-chasers Liverpool were on top form on Wednesday as they beat Watford 5-0 at Anfield

With 10 games to go, I have to be honest — regardless of my affinities — and say it is still 50-50. Manchester City are fabulous and they will exploit the slightest slip-up. They will watch Sunday's Merseyside derby and see the potential for Liverpool to take a false step.

Everton have had a difficult season but I can imagine how Goodison will be. I loved playing there for Liverpool and scored in my first game against them in 2005. We won 3-1 and I remember hearing plenty of colourful phrases coming my way when I celebrated.

What a brilliant night that was! Not so good was the game there the following season. We lost 3-0 — Pepe Reina dropped a ball on to Andy Johnson's head for the final goal — and we could hear the Everton players celebrating through the paper-thin dressing-room walls. That was absolutely awful.

That said, Goodison is a great place for football. The stands tower steeply over the pitch and, as everything is so tight, it can feel like you are in a cage. The only way you will get out with what you want is by winning the fight. It is a stadium with aggression — a lot of aggression!

If Liverpool manage to win the fight, they will have cleared the biggest hurdle remaining in their way. I've studied the run-ins of both clubs and Liverpool's looks more favourable than City's, especially when you get to the middle of April.

To set themselves up for that, though, they need to take care of the Merseyside derby. Win this battle and they really can start to believe.

Crouch celebrating after scoring for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in 2005 

Crouch celebrating after scoring for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in 2005 

Tough start

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