In Brief

Gary Neville: Liverpool should forget Champions League to focus on winning title

Graeme Souness says this season’s Liverpool team is the strongest since they last won the league in 1990

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville says that Liverpool have a great chance of winning the Premier League this season - if they kick the Champions League “into touch”.

After four games Jurgen Klopp’s side currently top the Premier League table with a maximum 12 points and are tipped to challenge Manchester City for the title.

However, Neville says that if Liverpool are playing Premier League and Champions League matches the amount of games could take its toll on their attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Speaking to The Times, Neville said: “The Champions League - if I was Liverpool, I would kick it into touch. I know that’s very hard to do but if they could go into February, March, April without it, I think they could have a real chance [of winning the league] if they had free weeks.

“Why? I think their method is exhausting for the front three. The drop in quality below them, if there are injuries or playing Wednesday, Saturday, I think it will take its toll.

“But, as a [Manchester] United fan, I am very concerned about them. This front three have always been fantastic and now the midfield can run, it can pass, it has depth. And the back four looks a unit.”

Liverpool reached last season’s Champions League final where they lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. In the league they finished fourth, 25 points behind champions Manchester City.

‘Strongest group since 1990’

Liverpool, who have not won the league since 1990, travel to Tottenham on Saturday (12.30pm).

Sky Sports pundit and former Reds captain and manager Graeme Souness thinks that Klopp’s defensive additions such as keeper Alisson and centre-half Virgil van Dijk make this team the strongest since that title win 28 years ago.

“Van Dijk has made an enormous difference,” said Souness. “People say one player couldn’t make that difference but he has, he’s settled everyone around him. Liverpool are as strong as I can remember, going back to when they were winning the league last time. This is the strongest group they’ve had since then.”

Lloris and Alli ruled out

Fifth-placed Tottenham will take on Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday without captain Hugo Lloris and midfielder Dele Alli.

Ruled out for several weeks with a thigh injury, goalkeeper Lloris was in the headlines yesterday. He was fined £50,000 and banned from driving for 20 months after he admitted drink-driving, the BBC reports. 

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that Lloris will remain as Tottenham’s captain and says the French World Cup winner “is sorry and accepts his mistake”.

Alli also misses the clash against Liverpool after injuring a hamstring while on international duty for England last week. Pochettino said Alli is also a doubt for the Champions League clash against Inter Milan on Tuesday.

Premier League fixtures

Saturday 15 September (3pm unless stated)
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool (12.30pm, live on Sky Sports) 
  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Leicester City 
  • Chelsea vs. Cardiff City 
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Crystal Palace 
  • Manchester City vs. Fulham 
  • Newcastle United vs. Arsenal 
  • Watford vs. Manchester United (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 16 September
  • Wolves vs. Burnley (1.30pm, live on Sky Sports) 
  • Everton vs. West Ham United (4pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 17 September
  • Southampton vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (8pm, live on Sky Sports)

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