Manchester City and Liverpool will lead a two-horse race in the Premier League once again in the 2019-20 campaign, Reds icon Graeme Souness believes.
Pep Guardiola’s City edged the Premier League title last term, finishing on 98 points – just one more than Liverpool – to defend their crown.
It was a remarkable campaign, with Liverpool setting a new record points total for a side that finished second, their swashbuckling attacking style aided by a new-found defensive shrewdness inspired by Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.
Although the Reds won the Champions League, there was still an air of what might have been domestically, as they lost only once in the top flight.
Liverpool also finished a whopping 27 points ahead of third-placed Chelsea and Souness does not see anyone bridging the gap in this season.
Speaking to Omnisport at Brighton and Hove Pride on behalf of PaddyPower, Souness said: “I think they [Man City and Liverpool] showed last season they’re a good bit ahead of anyone else, both of them.
“Man United have obviously strengthened where they needed to, at the back. I suppose United will be hoping Harry Maguire ‘does a Virgil van Dijk’ and brings them all along, makes everyone feel better about themselves and play better.
“I think Tottenham, they’ve spent a bit of money, they’ve been a team threatening for a few years now, they need to make that leap.
“Arsenal I don’t see challenging and Chelsea could have a difficult year. They’ve lost the best player [Eden Hazard] in the Premier League of the last six or seven years.
“He’s now gone and he was a scorer and provider of goals for Chelsea, they’ll miss him enormously and, given they’ve this transfer embargo, I think it’ll be a difficult year.
“I still see the big two, then the nearest challengers as Spurs. But United, if they get some momentum, they’ll take some stopping, because you have to accept they’re a very special football club and the support get behind them there.”
Liverpool’s pre-season has had its problems, as manager Jurgen Klopp has been without numerous key players due to international competitions and they won only once from matches against Lyon, Sevilla, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund and Sporting CP.
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) August 3, 2019
Up next before they get the new Premier League season started is the Community Shield against City, though Souness insists – win or lose – it will not be an indicator of how the season will unfold.
“The game [on Sunday] is not about who wins, it’s about players getting through the game, getting up to speed for, in Liverpool’s case, their game at home to Norwich, Souness added.
“It’s about getting them through the pre-season and to the first day [of the campaign] – the first day is everything.
“You think of Liverpool losing it by one point last year, I think it’ll be those two [teams at the top] again, it’ll be nip and tuck all the way.
“Every single game, every single point is important, but Sunday is not – in terms of a result – important.
“I’m talking from a manager’s perspective, saying that, as a player you don’t rock up at Wembley and not want to win, you’re bang at it. But the priority is getting them that bit fitter.”
Graeme Souness was talking to Omnisport on behalf of PaddyPower’s Come Out and Play campaign and Proud United, a team of LGBTQ footballers from across the United Kingdom working to tackle homophobia in football.
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