Rio Ferdinand believes Sadio Mane could be the man to decide Liverpool’s Premier League title clash with Manchester City on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men currently hold a six-point lead over the defending champions after 11 games, having not lost a match so far.
Who will decide Liverpool v Man City? Five things to know…
- Liverpool haven’t lost a Premier League game since their 2-1 defeat to City in January.
- The Reds are now six points clear of City in the table.
- But Liverpool haven’t beaten City domestically in their last three attempts.
- Ferdinand believes Mane could punish City’s patchwork defence.
- And Arsene Wenger thinks the loss of Aymeric Laporte is a costly one for Guardiola.
City were the last side to beat Liverpool in the Premier League way back in January but have made a relatively sluggish start to the new season by their standards, losing twice already.
Pep Guardiola has already been locked in a fierce battle of wits against Klopp this week, accusing Mane of being a “diver”, while the German retorted with a dig against City’s apparent use of “tactical fouls”.
And Ferdinand believes Mane could come back to haunt Guardiola, highlighting City’s weaker defence as a potential stumbling block for his old Manchester rivals.
“I don’t think there’s much between the attacks. It’s the other end of the pitch, the defences, where Liverpool absolutely override Man City,” Ferdinand told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I’d probably not want to play at the moment against the Liverpool front three – I think Mane is an absolute nightmare for any defender.”
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Such is Liverpool’s rampant form at the moment, Ferdinand even goes as far to say the Merseyside club are ready to “dominate” the league for an extended period, sitting a cut above the rest right now.
He added: “I think Liverpool are stronger in all areas at the moment and, mentally, they seem like they’re ready to dominate.”
Wenger: City could not afford to lose Laporte
City allowed Vincent Kompany to leave for a player-manager role at Anderlecht in the summer and failed to sign an adequate replacement at centre-back, leaving them with Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as their only natural senior options.
This decision has since come back to bite Guardiola, with Laporte sustaining a knee injury at the end of August and not playing a game since.
During that time, City’s goals conceded per 90 minutes has gone up from 0.75 to 1.0 and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the loss of Laporte could be the deciding factor between this season’s two title rivals.
“Well we have seen in recent years that they are very tight games,” Wenger said.
“We know Man City will take the game to Liverpool, and that Liverpool will be very dangerous on the counter-attack.
“I personally feel they could not afford to lose [Aymeric] Laporte, Manchester City.
“If you look at their results, they still play great football but they are a fractionally a bit more vulnerable defensively. And that could be a big handicap against Liverpool.”