Merson explains why Liverpool will take an early lead over Man City in the title race

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Paul Merson talks about Liverpool Credit: PA Images
Paul Merson talks about Liverpool Credit: PA Images

Paul Merson thinks Liverpool will be two points clear of Manchester City after the first round of Premier League fixtures.

The majority of supporters, pundits and former players are predicting this season’s title race to be between the top two from last term.

Man City finished one point ahead of Liverpool by beating Aston Villa 3-2 on a dramatic last day of the season in which the Citizens came from two goals down.

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Liverpool have lost Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich this summer but brought in Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvlaho, while Man City sold Raheem Sterling to Chelsea but they now have Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.

And Merson expects Liverpool to beat newly-promoted Fulham on the opening weekend of the season at Craven Cottage.

Merson told Sportskeeda: “I couldn’t think of a worse way for Fulham to start their Premier League season. They played so many games just by attacking teams in the Championship. Now, they’ve got to put eleven men behind the ball, and that’s going to be a problem.

“I would start Darwin Nunez in this game. I only say that because this is not a game against one of the big six, and you know that Liverpool are going to dominate. Nunez needs to play in games where you know he’s going to score, and this is a great game for him to make his Premier League debut.

“It’s always hard playing newly promoted teams at the start of the season – they’re excited and energetic. You’d much rather play them in January. Liverpool are an excellent team, however, and should be able to win this match easily.”

But Merson reckons it could be a much harder match for City at the London Stadium versus West Ham and is backing a 1-1 draw for Pep Guardiola’s side.

The Arsenal legend added: “This is a hard Premier League game for both teams. Manchester City employ a strong press, and this game could work out well for West Ham, with the way they play on the counter.

“It’s too early to say anything about Erling Haaland. He’s not a 27-year-old coming into the big boys’ league. He’s still a young kid who’s done well everywhere he’s been.

“West Ham are going to have 11 men behind the ball, and I’m not sure where Haaland’s power and pace will fit in there. When was the last time somebody scored a 1v1 for Man City? It’s very rare. I think he’s going to score a lot of Premier League goals because he plays for Manchester City, but they’ll be different to the goals he’s scored for Borussia Dortmund and Norway.

“I like Julian Alvarez as well – he’s a different kind of player. The only problem – when is he going to play? City do play a lot of football matches, and he’ll need to take his chances.

“I think Manchester City are slightly weaker than they were last season. Between Jesus and Sterling, you knew you were getting at least 25 goals every season. With Haaland and Alvarez, who knows? They could have 30 Premier League goals before Christmas, but they’ll need to prove their mettle.

“I remember this game in the Premier League last year. Man City had all of the ball, and West Ham pulled off counter after counter. I think this game will end in a draw, and I say that only because I can see how this game’s going to pan out.”


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