Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Martin Skrtel: Liverpool-Man City always a big game but it won’t decide title

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Mar 2024

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Former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel does not believe Sunday’s table-topping encounter with Manchester City at Anfield will decide the outcome of the Premier League title.

In what will be the biggest game of the season so far, the two best teams of recent years go head-to-head in what could be another volatile meeting on Merseyside.

Home advantage has played a significant role for Liverpool as they have lost just once – three years ago – to City since 2003, while in the last 50 meetings between the clubs at Anfield the Reds have suffered just three defeats.

But with Arsenal, who have to go to the Etihad Stadium at the end of the month, the other horse in the title race and only two points separating the three clubs, Skrtel believes it would be wrong to crown the champions on the back of Sunday’s result.

“It is always a big game against City, especially the last few seasons when they competed with Liverpool for the championship, but I don’t think it will be decisive as there are too many games to play,” he told the PA news agency.

“In the Premier League you can drop points anywhere and Arsenal are there also.

“I’m not going to predict how it will finish but I hope Liverpool can beat City and make a step towards winning the league.”

Recent matches at Anfield have been marred by off-field problems as, with tensions running high, on a couple of occasions City’s coach has sustained damage from objects thrown as the bus made its way through thousands of fans lining the streets.

There is equally as much at stake for both title challengers this weekend but Skrtel, who scored more goals against City (four) than any other English club and lost just four of his 17 appearances against them, believes supporters can make a real difference inside the stadium.

“These kind of games against City, United, Arsenal or Chelsea, the atmosphere is always special,” said the Slovakian, who is playing in the Liverpool Legends game against their Ajax counterparts on March 23 at Anfield.

“This time the fans will be more ready and more angry and will create the atmosphere that players love.

“It is mostly about the players on the pitch but the fans, who have done it already, can provide a boost for the team and push them forward.”

Liverpool are chasing an unprecedented quadruple against the backdrop of an injury crisis in Jurgen Klopp’s final season as manager.

While the German will be irreplaceable Skrtel believes he has left solid foundations for his successor.

“He delivered the trophies, he allowed the fans to believe Liverpool could be the best team in the world again and that’s very important,” he said.

“It’s not going to be easy to replace him but I think it is going to be a little bit easier for the new manager because if you see the current squad and the youngsters coming in the team is ready to compete.”

Skrtel’s former Liverpool team-mate Xabi Alonso remains the favourite to replace Klopp, although he is also reportedly being targeted by Bayern Munich.

“The job Xabi is doing at Bayer Leverkusen is massive and he could be a good replacement,” he said.

“But after the season he is having – he can win the league – he will have more clubs coming after him.

“Xabi was at Liverpool and he loves the club and I would be happy if it were him.”

:: Tickets for the Liverpool Legends game are available from liverpoolfc.com/tickets. Proceeds go to the LFC Foundation which develops and supports projects tackling a range of social issues including poor educational outcomes, youth unemployment and young people becoming involved in gangs and crime.

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