Paul Merson claimed that Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho could be found out against Liverpool if Pep Guardiola opts to play the Brazilian as a centre-back.
The pundit claimed that Man City have problems at the back and look vulnerable, and could be ripped to shreds by Liverpool’s front three, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, if they play like they normally do on Sunday.
Merson remarked on Liverpool’s front three while trying to warn Pep Guardiola that he probably should opt to play John Stones on Sunday at centre-back rather than play Fernandinho out of position.
“I think City are in trouble,” admitted Merson in his column for the Daily Star.
“They look vulnerable.
“They have problems at the back and if they open up the game the way they like to, that front three of Liverpool could rip them to shreds.
“City have been getting by playing midfielders in their back four since Aymeric Laporte got injured. But that was against lesser opposition.
“This is a big step up. If Fernandinho plays there at Anfield he’s going to get found out. I think John Stones has to start because he knows the position.
“But does Pep trust him? I don’t know if he does.”
It seems Liverpool’s front three should be about to lick their lips if Fernandinho gets the nod to play at centre-back, and there’s a real chance the Brazilian could end up playing in defence on Sunday. After all the 34-year-old has played as a centre-back in Man City’s last six league matches, so that suggests Guardiola is confident that Fernandinho can play that role and is one of his best options. Fernandinho, who earns £150,000-a-week (Source: Spotrac), clearly isn’t the paciest centre-back around and given the pace Salah as well as Mane have, he could easily be exposed on Sunday. Fernandino has impressively averaged 1.3 tackles, 1.1 interceptions and 2.7 clearances per match, according to WhoScored, across his seven league outings this season, but has only been pitted against sides who usually find themselves outside of the top-six so far. The 34-year-old’s hardest challenge in the league so far was arguably Wolves, and it’s worth noting Man City suffered a 2-0 defeat in that match.