In the wake of Liverpool’s signing of Thiago Alcantara this week and Friday night’s confirmation they have also sealed the purchase of Diogo Jota from Wolves, the tide of opinion has swung away from Manchester City winning the Premier League title this season towards Jurgen Klopp’s side retaining it. Call me fickle but I think the new arrivals on Merseyside are game-changers, too. I’m running from City and putting my money on Liverpool.
It is going to be a two-horse race and when Liverpool began the season without adding a major signing to their roster with a shaky win in the classic against Leeds, it felt as if inaction might cost them. Any side, no matter how good, needs fresh momentum and renewed competition within the squad. It needs to evolve and to progress and to thwart any hint of complacency. The addition of Thiago, in particular, ticks those boxes.
There are not many players who could improve the Liverpool side that won the title by a runaway 18 points last season but Thiago is one of them. He is a cerebral, elegant footballer, the kind of orchestrator of a match that Liverpool have not possessed so far under Klopp. Liverpool’s biggest weapon is their front three and the addition of Thiago may mean they are even better supplied than before. The addition of Jota insures against one of that trio getting injured.
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The Reds' signings of Thiago (pictured) and Diogo Jota are game-changers for the champions
City will be close. Closer than they were last season. But as they prepare to play the first game of their season against Wolves on Monday, there are too many question marks building up against them to suggest that, especially after developments last week, they can overhaul the champions.
The first, and most obvious, is the news that Sergio Aguero could be out injured for the next two months. City still have a fearsome frontline but it is not quite the same without Aguero. Gabriel Jesus is a brilliant forward but, so far, he has failed to show that he can be as prolific as the Argentina striker when he has been given the chance to step in. Two months is a long time to be without him.
There are also unaddressed concerns about City’s defence. Yes, it was the second meanest defence in the league last season but Liverpool’s was better. So far, City have added Nathan Ake from Bournemouth to it, but the consensus is that that will still leave them short. Defensive frailty cost them in their final match of last season, the Champions League quarter-final against Lyon, and it will cost them again if they do not secure more reinforcements.
City will run them close, but may be found reeling from the two-month loss of Sergio Aguero
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City are a beautiful side. They will probably be the best team to watch in the Premier League again this season. But any team anywhere would be poorer for the loss of David Silva and quite how they cope without him now that he has returned to Spain is another area of uncertainty. The hope is that Phil Foden, already such a wonderful talent, will continue to develop to the point where he fills the void but Silva is going to be the toughest of acts to follow.
City have the most talented player in the league and one of the best players in the world in Kevin de Bruyne, they have Raheem Sterling, who has also matured into a world class talent, they have Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Ferran Torres, the winger newly signed from Valencia as a replacement for Leroy Sane.
Their quality going forward is not in doubt. City are a team that can bewitch an opponent and paralyse them with their mix of energy and technical