Former Liverpool forward El Hadji Diouf has accused the Reds of “botting” the Premier League title race last season despite registering an unprecedented points total.
Jurgen Klopp’s men threw away a strong lead to finish a point behind champions Manchester City, who they currently enjoy a five-point gap over after starting this current season on a perfect footing.
Did Liverpool “bottle” the Premier League? Five things to know…
- Liverpool were seven points ahead of Man City after Boxing Day 2018 last season.
- The lead was almost immediately reduced to four when City beat them at the Etihad on 03 January.
- Liverpool would ultimately finish runners-up despite dropping just eight points across the rest of the season.
- The final points tally of 97 is the third-highest in Premier League history.
- They won their nine final games and are currently on a win-streak just three shy of the competition record (18).
And Diouf, who spent three years with Liverpool 2002 and 2005, believes they will once again fall short with Pep Guardiola’s side winning a third championship on the bounce.
“I don’t see them doing as well as they did last season,” he told FourFourTwo.
“They had the chance to win the league title; they had it in their hands and then let it slip. They were seven points ahead around Christmas – how Manchester City got it in the end beats my mind. As they say in England, I think they bottled it.
“If you have only one defeat in a whole season, surely you can’t say that you didn’t win the league – so it’s hard for me to imagine them having such a similar season and coming out as champions. Manchester City will be the team to beat once again.”
Should Liverpool beat Sheffield United at the weekend, the Reds will become just the second Premier League club to win their opening seven games of the season – after Chelsea in 2005/06. The Blues currently hold the record for the longest perfect start to a Premier League season, stretching their 2005/06 run to nine games before a draw with Everton.
If they were to go on to match this record Diouf, who fell out with former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, would applaud them but has made it known his regret of joining the Anfield-based club.
Since leaving he’s embarked on a war of words with the aforementioned Rangers manager which the former Senegalese forward has now reignited.
“When people say I don’t like Gerrard, I laugh, because if I tell you the things he used to say about me to the guys, you wouldn’t be able to write it,” he added.
“For me, it’s all in the past, but I’m not a hypocrite – I know they don’t like me, so I also don’t like them.
“Look, I say this and they get offended but let’s be honest: Gerrard has won nothing for his country.
“I took my country to the World Cup, and that singular act cannot be quantified. I’m happy for my boy, Sadio (Mane), and I’m happy the club is going well now, but on a personal level I’d rather I hadn’t played there.”
Klopp: Liverpool have strongest title competition in the world
Despite holding a five-point lead, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not getting ahead of himself, hailing to stature of opponents Manchester City.
City’s impressive comeback last season was as a result of winning 17 of their final 18 games, including a win over Liverpool. And Klopp believes City are the strongest competitors in the world.
“The next step? I don’t know,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“It is just to stay on this level and make the next steps and I cannot say that means we will be champions, that is not possible. We have the strongest competitors in the world, that is for sure.
“If you put Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the same league, that would be more difficult, but we have them already in the league, that quality.”