Football

Pundits pick Liverpool to retain EPL title

Ferdinand, Carragher, Redknapp, Keown and Souness back Klopp's Reds, but Neville and Richards plump for Manchester City

After waiting 30 years to win the English Premier League title, several pundits have tipped Liverpool to retain their crown this season, which kicks off tomorrow.

Manchester City are the only team to retain their crown since Sir Alex Ferguson led local rivals Manchester United to three consecutive league titles from 2006-2009.

But Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher, Harry Redknapp, Martin Keown and Graeme Souness believe the Reds can go back-to-back, like City did in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Ex-Arsenal defender Keown said the Reds' lack of transfer activity will not count against them this season.

Juergen Klopp has signed only Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas for £11.8 million (S$21m) from Olympiakos to provide cover for Andy Robertson at left-back.

Keown said on BT Sport: "A lot of people are looking at Liverpool, not bought anybody (other than Tsimikas) this summer, but this is a really special group of players.

"Thirty-two wins last season in the Premier League, there were records being set left, right and centre...

"There's enough in that group to go on and win the Premier League once more."

Souness, who both captained and managed the Reds, is also tipping his former team, but said the winning margin will be nothing like the 18 points it was last season.

He wrote in The Times: "As it stands, Liverpool are the favourites for the title, but I don't see them running away with it again. I would have loved to have seen Lionel Messi come in at Manchester City.

"I expect a bigger challenge, though, from United and Chelsea this time. United will be better with Donny van de Beek, but the goalkeeping situation may be an issue.

"Chelsea have signed well, but let's see how quickly Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz settle in. Arguably the best striker of the Premier League era, Thierry Henry, initially found it difficult...

"If you're asking me now, that's my top four for next May: Liverpool, City, United and Chelsea."

Gary Neville, however, picked the Reds to finish third, behind City and his former team United.

The former England defender said on Stadium Astro: "I'm going to go Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea, but that's with a little bit of hope rather than science!

"Finishing third last season was a big moment for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That demonstrated progression.

"I think he has to break that top-two or get close to that top-two and get close to the title."

'CITY TO REGAIN TITLE'

Ex-City and England defender Micah Richards also plumped for his former side, writing in his Daily Mail column: "City's football under him (Pep Guardiola) has been majestic and it's puzzling how a squad packed full of world-class stars lost nine league games and ended up 18 points behind Liverpool.

"Guardiola will be desperate to wrestle the title back. The title race will be tighter this season."

Nicolas Anelka, who played for France, Liverpool, City, Arsenal and Chelsea, meanwhile, believes the Blues "have a great chance to win the title".

He said on Stadium Astro: "(Frank Lampard has) got the quality to finish fourth in the league last season and, with the signings, he's got the quality to win it.

"It depends in terms of the experience of the players, whether they are strong enough to race until the end but the quality is in Chelsea as well."

    • Liverpool (5): Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher, Harry Redknapp, Martin Keown, Graeme Souness
    • Man City (2): Micah Richards, Gary Neville
    • Chelsea (1): Nicolas Anelka
Football