Jamie Carragher says Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday is now a must-win match if they are to have any hope of retaining their Premier League title, but even clawing three points back on Pep Guardiola’s side at Anfield might not be enough.
Liverpool looked to be getting back on track with 3-1 wins at Tottenham and West Ham but a shock defeat at home to Brighton – their second consecutive loss at Anfield after Burnley ended their 68-game unbeaten run – has left Jurgen Klopp’s side with a huge task.
The Reds are seven points behind City, who have a game in hand, and in the aftermath of Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Brighton, full-back Andy Robertson went as far as saying Liverpool were no longer in the title race.
While Carragher says a turnaround isn’t completely out of the question, he believes realistically finishing in the top four will soon become Liverpool’s focus, after an injury-ravaged season has seen them lose their grip on the Premier League crown.
“Andy Robertson has come out and said Liverpool aren’t in the title race, and I think that is the right way to look at it at the moment,” Carragher told the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast.
“Liverpool have to be looking at the top four positions, and to say the obvious, take each game as it comes because the form is so down.
“There are so many changes to the team that you are never quite sure what it’s going to be. Alisson was out at the last minute against Brighton and Liverpool are still waiting for players to come back.
“So I think from now, if you were to offer Liverpool a top-four finish they would take that and shake on it.
“That should be the mindset for Liverpool because that is what they are aiming for at the moment.
“If they could get back into the title race – and, to do that, they would have to beat City on Sunday – you could maybe see where they are with seven or eight games to go. Hopefully from Liverpool’s perspective, City could have some sort of drop.
“The run City are on at the moment is out of this world. It’s impossible to keep that going, City cannot win every single game so I would expect them to drop points at some stage.
“But the problem for Liverpool is that the gap is too big – and it certainly will be if they fail to win at Anfield.”
Why Liverpool can still beat City on Sunday
City are on a 20-game unbeaten streak across all competitions and many will expect them to maintain that run at Liverpool this weekend.
However, despite Liverpool’s setbacks, Carragher believes they still have the tools to cause City problems and says they could be boosted by some key players returning to fitness in time for the match.
“There are no secrets with how Liverpool play, they have caused City huge problems before,” he said.
“Guardiola has said this Liverpool team is the toughest he’s played against maybe in his managerial career.
“It’s not the Liverpool team we’ve seen in the last couple of years, but it will be different to what we saw against Brighton. I expect Alisson to be back, Fabinho could be back at centre-back, maybe the new centre-back Ozan Kabak plays with Jordan Henderson playing in midfield, and I think Sadio Mane will be back.
“If that is the case, it would feel like Liverpool had half of their team back, so that would be a lot stronger proposition and I think Liverpool will give City a really good game, I really do.
“Let’s not forget, this is a different City with no Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne, and this season has been all about keeping clean sheets.
“Liverpool have been struggling to score goals against certain types of teams, but I wouldn’t class City as one of them. City aren’t a defensive team, they are very good defensively, that’s a big difference.
“They will attack and look to hurt Liverpool, so it will be a really good game. Liverpool looked back to their best in the performances against Manchester United in the FA Cup, West Ham and Tottenham, where the onus was on the home team to come out and attack.
“I think City will look to win the game so it should make for a really interesting game. It’s still a game Liverpool can win, even after the struggles and poor results they have had recently, and Guardiola will know that.”
Listen to the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast for more from Jamie Carragher on the big match, including his verdict on Liverpool’s transfer business and why he believes Ruben Dias is the signing of the season.
Pitch to Post Preview – Liverpool vs Man City special: Jamie Carragher’s verdict, team news & line-ups, and the standout stats
In this week’s Pitch to Post Preview Podcast Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher joins Peter Smith for an in-depth look at Sunday’s big clash between Liverpool and Man City. Carragher gives his verdict on whether Liverpool can recover in the title race after their defeat to Brighton – and what they will have to do to beat Man City in their must-win match at Anfield.
We also hear the latest from both clubs, with Sky Sports News reporters Vinny O’Connor and Ben Ransom sharing the team news and discussing the selection issues ahead of the game.
And Sky Sports stats star Matt Cheetham has the numbers behind the five key areas of the game, so listen in and impress your mates with his stats and facts! He also makes his Pitch for what will happen in the match – and reveals whether the data backs up the predictions made by some of Sky Sports’ Twitter followers!