Liverpool narrowly missed out on the title last season – but what are the pundits predicting for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners in the 2022-23 Premier League season?
The Reds have added Darwin Nunez, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay but the likes of Sadio Mane and Divock Origi have left the club this summer.
Here, we’ve rounded up what 16 pundits make of Liverpool’s summer business and what it will mean for their hopes in 2022-23.
Speaking on the Overlap, Carragher admitted City were favourites for the league title but pointed out two possible advantages for his old side.
“I think, there’s a couple of things that I’m maybe hanging on to with Liverpool is the fact that I think once Virgil van Dijk was up to speed last season – you got the first three or four months out of the season – in the second half of the season, him and the goalkeeper [Alisson Becker] were absolutely what you would expect them to be and what they’ve been for the last three or four years.
“If you get them [Liverpool] at their best, at the very sort of start at the season, and don’t forget, every season van Dijk has been at Liverpool a full season, Liverpool have got over 90 points and the other thing is that Liverpool have got sort of three or four top players.”
When asked about the potential impact of the World Cup, Carragher added: “I don’t know about City to be honest; it might be the same, not going to the World Cup. So, Luis Díaz is not going, [Mohamed] Salah’s not going.
“I don’t really know City, but there’s a few decent players sort of from Liverpool I think, you know, could that make a difference in the second half of the season.”
You wouldn’t expect Neville to give Liverpool any sort of public backing and the former Manchester United defender has predictably questioned the Red’s chances this year.
Speaking on the Overlap, Neville said: “I don’t think that, hand on heart, you could say that Liverpool have got stronger, because Mane was unbelievable.
“I don’t think that you can say that Liverpool are going to be weaker, but you can definitely say City are going to be equal to last season if not better.”
He unsurprisingly thinks City will win the league by a ‘big margin’.
Asked by the Daily Mail whether anybody could stop his beloved City from winning a third successive league title, Richards replied: “Yes – and I say that without hesitation. We saw one of the tightest title races of all time last season with Liverpool only a point behind in the end.
“The quality both managers have at their disposal means we are now in a situation where neither side can really afford to drop points. The consistency they have shown has been off the scale and that is illustrated by their numbers from the last four seasons.
“City have taken 358 points from 152 games since August 2018; Liverpool have taken 357. There is barely anything between them and I expect it to be another close-run thing.”
He went on to add: “It could easily be another double for Jurgen Klopp; it might be the Carabao Cup and the Premier League, it might be the Champions League and the FA Cup.
“They came within two games of winning the lot last season and the respect I have for this squad could not be any higher.
“In doing the domestic Cup double last time around, Klopp showed how seriously he is taking these competitions now and they have got the squad depth to give things a really good go.
“The Carabao Cup is always a good one to target – you can’t underestimate how good it feels to get a trophy on board so early in the season.”
Writing for Sportskeeda, Merson cast doubt over Liverpool’s title credentials and predicts that their season depends on absorbing the loss of Mane quickly.
“The only worry for Liverpool, on the other hand, is that they’ve lost an unbelievable player in Sadio Mane, who scored big goals for them over the years,” Merson wrote.
“They’ll have to rely on Darwin Nunez to settle as quickly as Luis Diaz did, which is obviously a long shot because the Colombian took to English football like a duck to water.
“If Jurgen Klopp can get Nunez firing immediately, it’ll be tight once again, but if that doesn’t happen, I think Manchester City should win the Premier League.”
Darwin Núñez with the cherry on top ⚽
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 30, 2022
“Liverpool will have been disappointed to only end up with two domestic cups last season from a campaign that promised so much, but we know exactly how they are going to react,” Shearer wrote in his BBC column.
“Even just watching them in the Community Shield and seeing the body language of Jurgen Klopp and his team in that game, you can see they are up for the fight again.”
But the former England captain has predicted City will just pip them to the title again.
Needing to outshine Sky Sports, BT’s promotional campaign for the 2022-23 season involves hooking up pundits to lie detectors and asking them simple ‘yes or no’ questions. Genius.
And, when asked whether Liverpool will push City as close in the title race, Lescott’s reply of no was considered the truth by the totally 100% accurate device.
“I think Mane is a huge miss for them,” the former England defender said. “There were games where he just grabbed it by the horns and affected them. So I don’t think it will be as close as people think.”
“Liverpool are going to miss Sadio Mane badly because he brought so much to the team with his closing down as well as his goals,” Woodgate told the BBC. We’re sensing a theme here.
“Without him, I don’t see the title race being as close as it was last season – I think City win the league by a much wider margin.”
Keown also struck a downbeat note, questioning whether the Reds would maintain their trademark pressing style in the absence of Mane.
“Liverpool are the best pressers in world football, and Mane was best at it, so for them to be better without him is hard for me to take on board,” the former Arsenal and England defender told the BBC.
He also tipped Manchester City to adapt quicker to Erling Haaland than Liverpool would to Darwin Nunez. Ouch.
READ: Where are they now? The Liverpool XI from Sadio Mane’s debut in 2016
“The biggest issue with Liverpool is the lack of an attacking midfielder,” ex-Reds midfielder Hamann told Genting Casino. “They need to find a few goals from midfield but the way they’re set up now I can’t see them doing that.
“It remains to be seen how the dynamics of the team change because Darwin Nunez is a different player to Roberto Firmino who made the centre-forward position his own for the last few years.
“And then in Sadio Mane, Liverpool lost a player who averaged over 20 goals and 10 or 15 assists per season and we need to see if Luis Diaz can do that.
“He had a good start to his Liverpool career but whether he can do it year in, year out remains to be seen.”
But former Spurs and England midfielder Jenas was more effusive about the adaptability of Klopp’s side.
“I was thinking about Mane going and how he is a massive loss – they have lost one of the best players in the Premier League,” he told the BBC. “But it freshens their team up and they don’t have anything to worry about squad-wise.
“I can see Liverpool’s younger players like Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones contributing a lot more this season, and they have got the best defence in the league.”
He also predicted that the heartbreaking end to last season will give Liverpool added hunger for this campaign.
“As good as Liverpool’s season was last time, they suffered quite a lot of pain as well towards the end and that kind of stuff fires you up for the new season,” Jenas added.
“We saw it happen after they just missed out to City in 2018-19 and they came out absolutely flying. This time, I think those memories of missing out on the title and losing the Champions League final will be clear in the mind of these players as well.
“That bit of hunger might be the thing that gets them over the line.”
“Like City, Liverpool have got a new striker with Nunez, but they have probably got a bit more clarity with their system,” Upson stated when asked for his pre-season predictions by the BBC.
“They are used to playing the ball forward quickly, which suits a centre-forward like him and they are more direct in that way with crosses, balls over the top and down the flanks.”
“I expect Haaland to settle a little bit quicker than Nunez, only because he has got that little bit more experience, but that is probably a little bit unfair on Nunez because straight away he is looking like a real threat and full of energy,” Murphy told the BBC.
“They are going to go toe to toe with City again.”
Plenty of memorable goals in here 😍
Enjoy every opening day strike under the boss ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/ojgTbZfodq
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 4, 2022
Surprisingly, it’s fallen to Onuoha to back Liverpool to beat his old club to the Premier League title.
Speaking to ESPN, the former defender justified his decision by saying: “With the Liverpool and Manchester City thing for the Premier League title, it does feel like they are far and away the two sides closest to winning it.
“But it’s always a toss-up, it’s by a point. Or just maybe a bit more than that. I think, at this moment time, the players that have come in at Man City and the ones that have left.
“I think for Liverpool, as I saw on Saturday, it almost feels like it’s the same old Liverpool. It felt exactly the same. For Man City, searching for that maybe something different, perhaps it means they won’t hit the ground running in the way they need to be really competitive all the way throughout.
“Again, it’s a toss-up. I could have said Man City or Liverpool, neither will be a surprise – Some Man City fans are going to be unhappy with me.”
Onuoha also tipped Reds defender Virgil van Dijk to be named Player of the Year.
And Pearce is another former City defender that’s publically backed Liverpool to win their first league title since 2020.
“If you asked me who I think will win the league this year, it will be Liverpool,” he told talkSPORT. “Personally, with City winning the league twice in a row, I think it takes away a couple of per cent.
“I think Liverpool will have that little bit more hunger in their bellies and their striker options are so outstanding. So yes, I think they’re the ones and they’ll beat Man City this year.”
The ex-England defender also said: “I think Luis Diaz could be player of the year. I was so impressed with Diaz last season, how he hit the ground running, his goals, his effort. He’s almost unshakable on the ball, I really like him.
“Will Liverpool miss Mane, of course, but I think Diaz could be a slightly better player and a better goalscorer. I think he could be a special player this year. What a talent.”
Even a dye-in-the-wool Evertonian like Steven has backed Liverpool to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of May.
Writing for City AM, the former England international said: “It pains me to write this as a former Evertonian, but I think it could be Liverpool’s year again in the Premier League.
“Although Sadio Mane has moved on, their forward options look stronger than ever. Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota can fill in for Mane, while marquee summer transfer Darwin Nunez will add another attacking dimension.
“Crucially, striker Nunez seems ready to slot into the team straight away without changing the way that Liverpool play.”
“It was very close last year, there was nothing in it between City and Liverpool,” McLeish told Football Insider. “City showed they could handle the pressure at the end by winning that incredible finish to the season.
“I would actually put Liverpool as favourites after watching them in the Community Shield. The players have had another season of experience and they want to go one better.
“It is very, very difficult to retain the Premier League. I have a feeling Liverpool will dominate.”
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Raphinha is bringing the joy back to Barcelona one nutmeg at a time
Football is one of life’s most effective forms of escapism and that sentiment never rings truer than during pre-season.
A new signing can represent a pleasant diversion from the daily grind. Glimpses of their ability, ideally through a snatched clip on social media, only heightens the feeling of excitement; we could all do with some light-hearted relief these days.
This brings us nicely to Raphinha, one of Barcelona‘s hoard of shiny new toys they’ve picked up over the summer.
Their transfer activity this summer, resemblant of a seven-year-old given free rein in the supermarket with their mother’s debit card, has caused an epidemic of raised eyebrows across Europe.
Barcelona are supposed to be skint yet they’ve signed five top-class internationals. More are rumoured to be on their way to Catalonia. It’s all very weird, a sensation heightened by talk of ‘financial levers’ as Barca scramble to register their new signings before La Liga commences.
All these financial oddities, apart from making you want to lie down in a darkened room, take away from football’s beautiful escapism. But Raphinha can become the antidote to all that.
The €58million signing from Leeds United has wasted no time showcasing his ability at Barcelona, from scoring a delicious volley on his debut to his screamer against Real Madrid in the United States.
But it’s Raphinha’s bewitching ball control that has underpinned his rise and a string of defenders from Pumas UNAM were left needing blood transfusions after exposure to the Brazil international’s footwork.
Barcelona were already 4-0 ahead in their last pre-season friendly before the 25-year-old collected the ball on the far touchline and dared anybody to dispossess him.
Two Puma defenders took the bait. As they drew near, signposting their apprehension with hesitant footsteps, Raphinha dragged his foot over the ball before flicking it through an opponent’s legs in a manner we’re legally obliged to describe as filthy.
The Camp Nou crowd whooped appreciatively; life’s realities could wait until tomorrow.
— Vida Blaugrana FCB (@Vida_Blaugrana) August 7, 2022
With a bumper attendance of 83,000 in Camp Nou to watch the 6-0 win over their Mexican opponents, Barcelona have begun to reap the benefits of a summer in which they have looked to speculate to accumulate.
First have come the signings – Robert Lewandowski, Franck Kessie, Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen have joined Raphinha at Barca – with revenue boosts, albeit through the sell-off of future income streams, following soon after.
Storm clouds hover ominously on the horizon. “I can no longer listen to the slogan Mes Que Un Club,” former Netherlands goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus said last week.
“Barcelona is a commercial monstrosity, in my eyes it symbolises everything that makes modern football so ugly.”
And it’s true the financial situation has clouded Barcelona’s reputation across Europe.
But Raphinha’s nutmeg bought a timely reminder of football’s escapist qualities that have never felt more important.
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Lionel Messi needed just 8 mins of 2022-23 to invent a new type of assist
It’s often worth consulting a flowchart when asking yourself football questions.
Did that player know what he was doing leaving a leg in like that? -> Was it Sergio Ramos? -> Yes.
Why on earth did he choose to backheel it there? -> Was it Guti? -> Because: Guti. Why wouldn’t he choose to backheel it there?
Did that player mean to pull off that utterly outrageous thing we’ve never seen before? -> Was it Lionel Messi? -> Of course he meant it. It’s Messi.
You should know by now. Never question Messi. Not now, not ever.
For almost two decades, the Argentinian has been doing ridiculous things with a football. Yet 332 assists and 772 goals into his dazzling career, he’s still finding new ways to surprise us.
He needed just eight minutes of the new season to remind us that we’re blessed to witness greatness in front of our very own eyes.
On first glance, it wasn’t a remarkable goal. Pablo Sarabia finding space and cutting the ball back, the ball swerving past Messi and into the path of Neymar, who took a touch before drilling it home into the bottom corner. Nice enough, but nothing to write home about.
PSG will probably score a hundred goals just like it this season as they cruise to yet another Ligue 1 title.
Messi 🤝 Neymar 💥 Goal
Good work down the left as Serabia’s cutback is flicked on by Messi to find Neymar who finds the bottom corner 🔥
PSG of the mark 🏎️ pic.twitter.com/8ryJTDTsEC
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 6, 2022
But wait for the replay. What’s this? Messi touched it – and in doing so set the ball up at a perfect height for Neymar to control it and take on the shot.
Were this any other player on the planet, you’d probably chalk it down to a stroke of luck. A miscontrol that ended up in just the right place.
Indeed, were this Messi midway through last season, we’d probably be saying the same thing. Whisper it, but for much of his first season in the French capital, he looked ordinary. For the first time in his career.
By January, he’d only scored one league goal – doing so from 44 shots.
Taking time to adapt to a new environment, a new club and new team-mates showed that Messi is human after all, to deploy the cliche to end all cliches for the very player it was designed for.
• • • •
READ: The 5 players with the most assists for Lionel Messi goals: Suarez, Xavi…
• • • •
He has admitted he didn’t find it easy last year in Paris.
“When I was halfway there, the Real Madrid thing happened and that killed us,” Messi told Argentinian broadcaster TYC Sports in May.
“It killed me and the whole locker room in general and all of Paris because we had this big dream in that competition. And the way it happened, the game, the result… it was a gut punch.”
He also revealed he struggled to recover from Covid-19.
“It left me with after effects. It left me with after effects in my lungs. I came back and it was like a month and a half without even being able to run because my lungs were affected.”
Could it be? Might Messi finally be on the wane?
The answer to that question is in one glorious touch. Here, we’ve slowed it down for you.
You know it wasn’t a fluke because Messi is looking back to his best once again.
He followed that assist up with two goals, including a superb overhead kick, to cap off a 5-0 victory away to Clermont Foot.
The 35-year-old scored and looked exceptionally sharp in the curtain-raising Super Cup victory over Nantes and seems to have picked up where he left off in the summer, when he scored five goals against Estonia and absolutely ran the show in a virtuoso performance against Italy in the Finalissma at Wembley.
And after a slow start to life at PSG, things are beginning to click into place. In fact, only team-mate Kylian Mbappe has registered more assists in Europe’s top five leagues in 2022.
Peak Messi is capable of impossible things. Never question him.
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Chelsea ‘work on deals’ for £84.5m duo as Tuchel ‘insists’ on improved Fofana bid
Thomas Tuchel is reportedly ‘insisting on another bid for Wesley Fofana’, with Chelsea said to be £10m short of Leicester’s valuation for the centre-back.
Tuchel is looking to bolster his defence before the close of the transfer window and Fofana has emerged as his top target.
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Reports suggest Chelsea have had two bids of £63m and just over £70m turned down and are preparing a third.
The 21-year-old is said to be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge and the Independent claim the Blues are £10m short of agreeing a deal, suggesting a bid of around £80m would be enough to persuade he Foxes to part with their prized asset.
Brendan Rodgers has said Fofana, like James Maddison, is not for sale, but sources close to the club claim the financical strife they find themselves in means one of the two will likely have to leave.
Tuchel is ‘insisting’ on an improved bid to get the deal done, while the report claims Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is also ‘working on deals for Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’.
Manchester United agreed a £71m fee with Barcelona for De Jong last month, but the midfielder has dug his heels in over his deferred salary and reticence to leave the Nou Camp for Old Trafford.
On Sunday, Barcelona president Joan Laporta reiterated a desire to keep De Jong and the player’s desire to stay at the club.
Laporta said: “Frenkie de Jong is a Barcelona player of great quality and we want him to stay. With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield.
“He has offers, but we want him to stay and he wants to stay too.”
But multiple reports have suggested that if De Jong does end up leaving the Nou Camp, Chelsea would be his preferred destination, and Blues chiefs are still said to be in talks with the Dutchman’s representatives.
And Aubameyang – valued at £13.5m by Transfermarkt – emerged as a target last week as Tuchel looks to bring a striker in to lead the line and score the goals that have been hard to come by for too long.
Tuchel spoke of the need for Chelsea to bring in young talent like Fofana after their 1-0 win over Everton on Saturday, a game in which his back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and new signing Kalidou Koulibaly had a combined age of 100.
“Azpi is the legend that he is, Thiago is in the moment still very important to us and when we had the chance to sign Kalidou we did it because we believe that he has some years ahead of him,” the German boss said.
“But in general it is the fact that like the goalkeeper and the double sixes are in their thirties, and that is just what it is. Pace is an issue and speed is an issue. In all signings, this is the demand of the game that you can play one on ones, that you can defend space if needed with high-speed runs.
“It is a lot of experience, it is maybe another of age – it is a lot of experience and they have their quality and they know what they are doing. We also need to make sure we have a new generation to take over in the next years but the guys are strong that is why they are under contract and the guys have our trust.
“There needs to be [balance]. I think it is necessary. The game in general is very physical and demands a lot. This is the situation. We knew it before.”
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