Gary Neville doubts Liverpool will run away with the Premier League title after Virgil van Dijk’s injury and reckons Tottenham and Chelsea could challenge this season.
Spurs beat Manchester City on Saturday to move to the Premier League summit, while third-placed Chelsea eased past Newcastle 2-0.
Liverpool produced an emphatic victory over Leicester City to move second but Neville reckons the injury to Van Dijk could see a much closer title race this season.
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Speaking on the Gary Neville podcast, Neville said: “I’m excited for next Sunday with Chelsea playing Tottenham.
“It’s an interesting season. We thought Chelsea might be interesting at the start of the season as they have a young, exciting squad – it looks like Frank Lampard is starting to get it right. He was still searching for his best team in the first few matches to try and fit everyone in. There were certain players that weren’t fit but now they are and he’s starting to work it out. They look pretty strong.
“Is it a season where Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard being up against each other in a title race? I thought Liverpool would run away with it, but not now, not the with Virgil van Dijk injury. That’s the one that is the gamechanger and exposes them a lot more.”
Manchester City were the closest challengers to Liverpool last term as Jurgen Klopp’s men romped to the title by 18 points – but their form this season has been poor by their standards.
Pep Guardiola’s side have only won three of their opening eight Premier League matches this term with Neville picking out the reasons for their struggles.
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“The biggest thing for me is in transition,” Neville said.
“They are not as quick at getting the ball back. Teams are more comfortable playing a pass through them and taking a risk. City used to be all over you like a rash when losing the ball or would just sustain attacks – but it’s less than it was before.
“Ederson doesn’t look as comfortable in goal, he’s making mistakes he wouldn’t have made a couple of seasons ago. There seems too much reliance on Kevin De Bruyne. Something is not quite right.
“Pep seems to be searching for the right combinations. A couple of seasons ago you could reel off the team: Sane, Sterling, Aguero, De Bruyne, Silva, Fernandinho, Kompany – you could tell what was going to happen each game.
“I don’t get that feeling anymore that the fluidity and continuity is quite there.”