Robbie Fowler explains difference between Liverpool and Man City in title race
It's one of those stories that has people going ‘yeah, yeah’, but last season when he was really struggling, I told a friend that Liverpool should sign John Stones.
He wasn’t getting a kick with Manchester City, wasn’t even carrying the half-time oranges, but I always thought there was still a top-class player there, just waiting to mature.
It’s not rocket science, I know.
He was good enough to play in a World Cup semi-final and win two Premier League titles.
And he’d done all that before he was 25, so if he had a dip last season, it was probably not going to be terminal.
You wonder if Liverpool, or any other club, tried to get him, and you wonder just how hard City would have fought to keep him if there was a decent offer – though I accept the answer would be ‘tooth and nail’, if it was their biggest title rival!
I’m not convinced that when Pep Guardiola bought Ruben Dias in the summer, he saw him with Stones in the heart of the defence.
In fact, it was probably nailed on he was bought to partner Aymeric Laporte.
So I’m not convinced he wouldn’t have been sold, if there was a good offer the from the right club.
But sometimes you get lucky as a manager.
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And in Pep’s case, he acted as decisively last summer as he did after his first season at City, when it was obvious his defence wasn’t good enough to win titles.
He didn’t have to make five defensive signings this time, only two, but the money he spent on Dias – I heard it was close to £70million – shows he meant business.
And you don’t have to be Martin Keown to know as a pundit that he’s transformed the team.
Dias and Stones seem to compliment each other, and that’s exactly what you want.
The good news for City is that they’re an incredible age as a defensive pairing – they could have 10 years left in them.
What I would say as well, is that they will ensure City win the title back this season, even if Liverpool win on Sunday afternoon.
I do think the title has gone for Jurgen Klopp, in fairness.
Not that they’ll be saying that in the dressing room. You always think if you can win the next game things can turn around, they will still believe if they can give everything then they will have half a chance.
But I just can’t see it – I can’t see City losing the number of games they’d need to open up the title race.
They’ve gone 20 games unbeaten now in all competitions, and they will think they’re back to their very best.
What is your scoreline prediction for Liverpool versus Manchester City? Have your say in the comments.
I would say this as well: people exaggerated their dip last season.
They were still top class, but because Liverpool had an unbelievable record-breaking year, then people questioned Guardiola and his team.
City still finished finished second, 15 points ahead of Manchester United in third, and with a points total that will probably win the league this time.
It’s just that they came up against one of the best teams in Premier League history.
That’s the case for Liverpool this time around.
They’ve had horrendous injuries, and just happened to have them at time when City can’t stop winning. It highlights things even more.
But they will be back.
I have absolutely no doubt about that.
I think they will be looking at the season now, and thinking they have to finish top four, first of all – and that’s not a given, because there’s real competition.
I must admit, that thought wouldn’t have crossed my mind even two or three weeks ago, but now you have to consider it.
So they’ll need their new signings to come off to release Henderson and Fabinho for midfield, but if they do, then they’ll be looking at the Champions League, and thinking ‘we know we can win it’.
And they can. It may take a recalibration, but that has to be their thinking from now.
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