| 5.8°C Dublin

anfield struggle Liverpool's lack of squad investment is costing them dearly...but the title race is far from over

Champions are working off more or less the same group of players they had in August 2018

Close

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions on the touchline during the Premier League game with Brighton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions on the touchline during the Premier League game with Brighton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions on the touchline during the Premier League game with Brighton

During a normal season, I would confidently predict that Liverpool simply have to win at Anfield today against Manchester City to have any chance of retaining the Premier League title won so thrillingly last season.

They are seven points behind City this morning, and with a game more played, so usually nothing less that three points would do from today's showpiece.

Yet this is anything but a normal time in all our lives and it is most certainly anything but a normal football season.

The lack of a proper pre-season preparation is coming home to roost now for so many clubs, with far too many players succumbing to muscle injuries and missing matches.

And the lack of crowds is contributing hugely to shock result after shock result.

Last Wednesday night, every Premier League match played was won by the away team. That just never happens - 'normally'.

I fear Liverpool now are paying the bill for not copying their predeccessors of the 1970s and 1980s, who always bought a top player in the summer after they won a league.

Liverpool didn't bring in serious reinforcements after they won the Champions League in 2019.

Jurgen Klopp knew he had the bones of a title-winning team on his hands.

What he didn't know was that a global pandemic would come along and financial needs would then stop him from buying anyone other than Thiago Alcantara last summer.

So basically Liverpool are working off more or less the same group of players they had in August 2018 when they began that season that ended in such a joust with Manchester City at home and with Euro glory in Madrid.

In those first two seasons, they hardly had an injury either.

Now Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are gone for the season out of the defence and the attack is just labouring.

Instead of being a fluid machine, purring along to goals, the Liverpool attack is like a limousine that is spluttering and stuttering because it has been filled with dirty petrol.

Yet I still expect Liverpool to win today and thus ensure that the Premier League race is far from finished. If Liverpool can get the win, it is not over, not by a long shot.

Close

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (right) and Everton's Ben Godfrey battle for the ball during their Premier League match at Old Trafford yesterday.

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (right) and Everton's Ben Godfrey battle for the ball during their Premier League match at Old Trafford yesterday.

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (right) and Everton's Ben Godfrey battle for the ball during their Premier League match at Old Trafford yesterday.

Manchester City's next four opponents in the Premier League are Spurs, Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United.

All but the Arsenal game are at home, but still it is a tough schedule with two games against Borussia Monchengladbach sprinkled through them in the Champions League.

After that run of games, we'll have a better idea of where this fluid, exciting Manchester City side stands.

I hope Manchester United's players and supporters don't take too much out of last Tuesday night's 9-0 demolition of Southampton, they would be fools if they thought the scorleine was true reflection of where they stand right now.

Once Alex Jankewitz was sent off in the second minute, I just though to myself, "right that's a 3-0 win for United".

When the Red Devils got the first goal in the 18th minute through Aaron-Wan Bissaka my first idea was: "Right, this could be five or six."

But 9-0 was still beyond my imagination against a team who led the Premier League, if only for a day, last November. But who are now sliding down the table and struggling for traction.

But wasn't what happened last night just typical of Manchester United.

They go two goals up against Everton and then just switch off, allowing the Blues to come right back into the match.

Then they take the lead again, only to give it back up in the last minute with a defensive shambles for which both David de Gea and Harry Maguire have to share the blame.

There was good stuff from United because Bruno Fernandes' goal was just brilliant, a joy to see. He is the link in this United side, who picks it up from the defence and works it forward.

It's a bit worrying to think that later this year, in two matches, Fernandes is going to be probing and scheming in front of Ireland's defence - and he's going to be looking to play Cristiano Ronaldo in!

But there was also the bad in a defence that was opened all too easily once the opposition decided to play ball through the channels at them.

It will cost them more points before this season is out.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Top Videos





Privacy