Liverpool’s attacking riches would have got them over the line at Crystal Palace whereas Manchester City’s didn’t – and the Reds’ strikeforce could be the difference in the title race, says Gary Neville.
Premier League leaders City’s goalless draw at Selhurst Park saw Palace become only the second team to stop Pep Guardiola’s side from scoring home and away in a Premier League season, after Manchester United in 2020/21.
The stalemate ended a run of 18 Premier League games where City had found the net, stretching back to Palace’s 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium in October, and meant the champions – who are four points clear at the summit having played a game more than Liverpool – had failed to score for the fourth time this season.
By contrast, Liverpool have drawn a blank just once this season, with Neville highlighting the abundance of attacking talent at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal compared to Guardiola.
“If Liverpool play that game [at Palace], they win that game because they have better strikers and finishers,” he told Monday Night Football. “They are more ruthless and there is more of them, five players you would put your money on.
“Whereas at City, there are more wide players playing in those positions. Phil Foden is a midfielder player but he’s playing centre-forward. Jack Grealish could be a midfielder, but he plays on the left of a three up front.
“City have got outstanding players in that team, fantastic players, but for as brilliant as they are, they are not the most ruthless or clinical in front of goal.
“The difference at the end of the season could just be down the fact that Liverpool have more strikers who are clinical and suited to scoring goals. We’ve known that all season with City, the only thing that could let them down is that.”
Neville continued: “City are top of the league, but they haven’t scored four times this season. Liverpool have failed to score in a game once. Could that make a difference? Of course it could. Both teams are at the highest level so you’re talking about what the difference could be.
“Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are all at Liverpool and they will score goals. City are a brilliant team and could still win this league, but that could be the difference.
“Liverpool are really dangerous. I look at those five strikers they have got. They go into the last part of the season knowing they can win an awful lot of football matches with those five up front. City don’t have the same luxury in attacking areas.”
Carra: City should have gone for Kane over Grealish
Jamie Carragher believes City are displaying the characteristics of a side without a recognised striker and pointed to last summer’s protracted and fruitless pursuit of Harry Kane as the root cause.
“When a team doesn’t have a striker, they often play better football because they will have more players who want to get on the ball, come short, and teams can’t get the ball off them,” he said. “But there will be times when you need that guy to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Would Harry Kane have made the difference? I always said in the summer that I was surprised they didn’t spend the money they did on Jack Grealish on Harry Kane.
“I didn’t feel City particularly needed Grealish; he’s obviously a quality player but with Foden, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling able to play there, it probably wasn’t the right choice.
“But let’s not forget, City can still go and win a treble this season. They missed chances [at Palace] that any player – midfielder or defender – should score. Not having a striker could make a huge difference but where City are in the league – and every competition – shows their quality.”
Liverpool to seize advantage at Arsenal?
With City dropping points at Selhurst Park, the door is left ajar for Liverpool to grab the title-race initiative in Wednesday’s trip to Arsenal, live on Sky Sports.
Despite City and Liverpool having nine and 10 games remaining respectively, Carragher believes Liverpool can administer a psychological blow ahead of a pivotal set of fixtures which could well determine who gets their hands on the title.
“In the last few weeks City have been six points ahead of Liverpool, but they have had the game in hand,” he added. “I do feel the game at Arsenal on Wednesday is absolutely huge. If Liverpool can at Arsenal that would really hurt City psychologically.
“Bernardo Silva says City are still favourites because Liverpool have to go to their stadium, and I absolutely agree with that. Arsenal away and Manchester City away at the two big problems in Liverpool’s fixture list.
“But if Liverpool win at Arsenal and go within a point, and then go and beat Watford, the pressure will be on City at Burnley before the two sides meet at the Etihad in April.
“I know there are games to go, but I think City’s next three and Liverpool’s next four games are the toughest and upon us right now.”