This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Gary Neville has tipped Liverpool to extend their lead over Manchester City and suggested they have a great chance of winning the Premier League.
Last year the Reds finished just a point behind Man City as they registered their highest ever Premier League points total, but so far this season they have the advantage.
Pep Guardiola’s side drew 2-2 with Tottenham last week, whilst Liverpool took their winning run to a club record 13 games by beating Burnley at the weekend, to sit two points ahead of the champions.
Sky Sports News pundit Neville believes it is a two-horse race once again this season, with Liverpool having the advantage due to problems in the Citizens’ defence.
Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast, he said: “They are a championship team. They are playing at a level that could win the title.
“You talk about the clinical element of a team. The defensive bit is right, the attacking bit is right, and the midfield looks solid and experienced.
“If Aymeric Laporte’s injury is a serious one, it is a big problem for City. I said a few weeks ago that I was struggling to understand why City didn’t follow through on Harry Maguire with Vincent Kompany leaving the club.
“In terms of that leader-type figure, I think Laporte has got that. I think this will cost City points.”
The Frenchman’s injury is believed to be a serious one but it is not yet known how long he will be out for, and the former Manchester United player thinks Man City could struggle with only John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.
Manchester City were the only side the European champions lost to in the league last season, and given their current run of form they will be confident of amassing a similar points total to last season.
It is quite a statement for Neville to make given the rivalry that exists between him and the club, which suggests that Laporte being missing could really hit Man City significantly.
The defender made 51 appearances in all competitions last season and his consistency was integral to the Sky Blues competing on all fronts and winning the domestic treble.
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By comparison, Liverpool have no major injury concerns and instead are better off than last season in that regard following the returns of Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, so could be better placed for their title campaign this year.
However, a similar serious injury to one of Liverpool’s front three or to Virgil van Dijk could threaten to derail their season, and it is too early to predict how Man City will cope without Laporte at the back.