Football
Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool expected to be in four-way fight for the title; Romelu Lukaku identified as a key figure following his move back to Chelsea; Gary Neville calls for ‘one outstanding season’ from Paul Pogba
Tuesday 17 August 2021 06:34, UK
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville and Graeme Souness assess expected Premier League title contenders Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool after the opening weekend of the new season.
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
«Leeds are the perfect opponents because they play one-on-one and Manchester United pulled them apart. Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were outstanding and it was a really good start from Manchester United.
«It’s an absolute given that if Fernandes and Pogba are at Manchester United, they will both play. But l think what we will see is Pogba on the left of a front three for big games and he may play deeper in some games at Old Trafford when they need to unlock teams. He will create chances.
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«Manchester United need one outstanding season from Pogba because he is going to leave next summer. I think Pogba will be excited by the team United are building but he has a decision to make: does he want to commit his future to Manchester United?
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«If it’s a new contract, it will be for three or four or five years and that means the best years of his career will be at Manchester United. I think Paul Pogba has an ambition to play somewhere else – and that’s been clear for the last couple of years. His agent has told us that and I think he will take that opportunity.»
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
«I’ve got no doubts about Manchester City.
«For 15 minutes against Spurs they were breathtaking and they could have quite easily gone one or two goals up so no, I’m not overly worried about them longer-term.
«They’ll probably win the title and if they do get Harry Kane, to be honest with you, it’s a pretty sure thing I would say because once they get the goals up front, which is what they were missing today, then they’ll be fine.
«The defence will strengthen when Kyle Walker and John Stones come back in. They’ve got so many players to come back in it’s untrue.»
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
«City have won three leagues in the last four years and they’ve shown resilience. It’s not gone well from start to finish in those leagues that they’ve won.
«The teams that win the league are the teams that can cope with a downturn, deal with disappointment and deal with injuries.
«They’ve got a great squad and have got great belief. This defeat is a punch on the nose but you pick yourself up and that’s what City are about. But I come back to it, I think they need someone who is going to get them 20-plus goals a season.
«When you are relying on players like Gundogan and your midfield players to be your top goalscorers, I think you are on a bit of a wing and a prayer.»
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
«You know what Chelsea are under this manager. He is getting a tune out of all of them.
«With the addition of Lukaku, that makes them genuine title contenders. If he stays fit, he will get 20-plus goals in that team.
«Werner excites because he always ran in behind and got chances but he didn’t take them. As a manager, you can’t wait for him to score 20-plus goals in a season. There are zero question marks against Lukaku because he has done really well in this league before. He looks to be a different animal coming back.»
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
«Liverpool will be there or thereabouts. The top four will be fighting all the way. I would go as far as to say that the title won’t be decided in April and it will go right to the wire.
«They have Van Dijk back. Matip is a good partner for him, but can he stay fit?
«I would like to see Liverpool spend a few bob but they score goals for fun. It is very easy to look at Liverpool and talk about the front three and say how special they were, but a lot of their great play came from their midfield three. But Wijnaldum has gone, Henderson is a year older, Milner is a year old. I know they have some good kids coming through but l would like to see something else in midfield. It will be a long, hard season.
«Liverpool won’t be far away.»
«I can’t separate them. But l do think Manchester United will be an improvement on last season and that Liverpool need a midfielder because they will miss Wijnaldum.
«But going back to Chelsea, they are serious. Lukaku is a guarantee of a signing and will bring them a lot closer to the title.»
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