Liverpool are suffering from a ‘hangover’ but can still challenge Manchester City both domestically and in Europe, claims ex-PL star

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Former Premier League player Stephen Ward believes that Liverpool are suffering from a ‘hangover’ after coming close to completing a historic quadruple last season.

The Reds won both the FA Cup and League Cup but missed out narrowly on the Premier League and Champions League in what can still be deemed as a successful campaign.

Manchester City pipped Jurgen Klopp’s side to the top-flight title by a single point on the final day and the Merseysiders then suffered a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris.

“I think it’s a bit of a hangover from last season,” Ward told Football Saturday (via Off The Ball). “They had an incredible season, but I just think to lose the league on the last day having come so close again.

“The following week in the Champions League, in a game where you wouldn’t say they dominated, but you would have put them down as favourites to win the way they were playing, I think it’s just rolled on a little bit into this season.

“Combine that with losing Sadio Mané who was so influential, I just think they haven’t gotten going this season.”

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Despite Liverpool not starting the season how they would’ve hoped, the ex-defender thinks the Anfield outfit is the only team that can seriously challenge City both domestically and in Europe.

Pep Guardiola’s side is now eight points ahead of the Reds in the Premier League having played a game more than Liverpool and the Citizens have also won both of their opening two Champions League group games.

The two sides have been involved in an exciting rivalry for a number of seasons now, with the Sky Blues winning four of the last five league titles and Klopp’s side winning the other during the 2019/20 season.

Ward, who once scored a winner for Wolves at Anfield, is confident that Liverpool will once again battle it out with their rivals on numerous fronts with the mood of many Reds supporters boosted by their 2-1 defeat of Ajax on Tuesday night.

“For me, there’s no doubt they’ll be the closest challengers still,” Ward said. “That winning goal in the last minute against Ajax might just be the spark that they need.

“Watching Liverpool this season, they have dominated in a lot of games, but they just haven’t scored goals at the right time or when they needed to.

“I’ve no doubt they will come good and will be right up there in all competitions. I just think the problem they have is the same problem for everyone in the Premier League: Manchester City are just so good at the minute.

“You don’t want to give them too much of a head start, because it will be very difficult to catch them up.”

“It will be a strange season with the World Cup,” Ward added. “If they can get back on track and close the gap going into the World Cup, then it’s going to be a completely new season come January time.

“If they do need investing, they will have plenty of time to do that and get right back into the competition.”

We travelled to Napoli for our opening Champions League group stage clash earlier this month and it’s fair to say that it was a night to forget in Naples.

The Serie A outfit dominated us all over the pitch and they were well worth their 4-1 victory – it was a concerning showing from Klopp’s men with many of the players looking fatigued and disinterested.

Ward has labelled that display as ‘strange’ and has explained that injuries may have played a part in Liverpool’s slow start to the season.

“It was a strange performance, the first half and well the whole 90 minutes,” the former Republic of Ireland international added. “You become accustomed to Liverpool going away to these teams and steamrolling them.

“You can put it down to many factors. They haven’t had the best of luck with injuries at the start of the season. Thiago, who is so influential, has been out for a bit.

“You also have players that have been there a long time. The likes of James Milner, you probably look at him now and think he is a squad player. He’s ended up starting in really important games.”

“Napoli did to Liverpool what Liverpool have done to teams so often. They out-worked them, out-ran them, and just looked like they had so much pace on the counter-attack.

“It was strange to see really. For Liverpool, there’s still that [fatigue] in the squad, and I think they may have wanted a few more in the transfer window that didn’t come off.

“It just seems for me to be a bit of a hangover. They responded well in the Ajax game to get that result.”

Many of our lads will now head off to the international break with their respective nations and hopefully they all return back to Merseyside fully fit to help us find some rhythm in the coming months.

We’re next in action against Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on October 1 so let’s hope the lads can put in another strong performance to help us pick up another huge three points.

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