Former Arsenal great Paul Merson believes that Liverpool won’t win the Premier League this season because their bench isn’t as strong as Manchester City’s.
The two teams are currently neck and neck at the head of the league table, although the Reds do have a game in hand. However, Merson believes that won’t be enough to get them over the line and highlighted senior duo Divock Origi and James Milner in the process.
“The pressure is on Liverpool now in the title race but I think it’s their bench that could cost them the title,” he wrote in his Daily Star column. “Manchester City can rotate as much as they want and their team never gets weakened. They have five or six players on the bench who can come on and change a game. Jurgen Klopp’s bench is just not the same.
“They were struggling against West Ham and brought on Divock Origi to try to win them the game. No disrespect to him but Origi wouldn’t get in Arsenal’s team and James Milner at right-back seems to be struggling. They must be wondering why they let Nathaniel Clyne go.”
It is far too early to prognosticate over who has the edge in the title race and who is going to be lifting the trophy at the end of the season, but that’s what these pundits are paid to do so expect a fair few of these sorts of stories in the coming months. Liverpool are in a better position at this moment in time with their game in hand, there’s no doubt about that. Yes, the momentum is with City but we know how quickly that can change in football. Both teams have massive games to come so there’s no use ruling one side or another out of it just yet. Merson does have a point with the benches, though. Against Everton on Wednesday Pep Guardiola was able to bring Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus off the bench – that’s just ridiculous. Klopp’s team simply can’t match that insane strength in depth, and so they’re going to have to rely on their first choice players to get the job done. Perhaps that will be enough, perhaps not. We’ll have to wait and see.