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‘If he plays…’ – Paul Merson names one player Klopp must pick if Liverpool are to beat Man City

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Paul Merson has suggested that the outcome of Liverpool’s showdown against Manchester City on Sunday could hinge on whether or not one particular player features.

The Reds have held their position at the top of the Premier League despite trying to cope with an injury crisis which has deprived Jurgen Klopp of several stalwarts, although some of those have returned and another could be in line to play next weekend.

 

It was reported this morning that Mo Salah may resume full training today with a view to possibly being available for the visit of Pep Guardiola’s side to Anfield, having missed all but two matches for his club this year due to hamstring and muscle injuries.

 

In his latest column for Sky Sports, Merson claimed that Liverpool will secure all three points on Sunday, but only if the 31-year-old plays.

The pundit stated: “Salah gives Liverpool their X-factor and they’ll beat Man City if he plays. Without him, I don’t see how they’re going to hurt City on a consistent basis. With Salah, they’ll get after Man City and put them under severe pressure by closing down high up the pitch.

“He is one of the best players in the world and takes chances – Liverpool will get enough chances to win if Salah plays. Salah carries that fear-factor too and will make Man City think.”

Merson concluded: “I’ve seen City at Anfield too many times and it’s hard a place to go when it’s bouncing, but Salah has to play for Liverpool to win this game.”  

Considering that Salah remains Liverpool’s top scorer this season despite his recent injury absence, and is our fifth-most prolific player of all time, you can understand why Merson believes the result could depend on whether or not the Egyptian features.

He boasts an especially good record against City, too, scoring in all but one of their visits to Anfield since he joined the Reds in 2017 and registering at least one goal contribution in seven successive Premier League games against Pep Guardiola’s side (Transfermarkt).

Our chances of victory on Sunday would absolutely be aided by having the 31-year-old back, although our season has been characterised by ‘peripheral’ and young players stepping up decisively in the absences of established stars.

Liverpool have still scored freely since the start of year even without Salah, while a win over Sparta Prague on Thursday would mean we go into the City game on a run of seven consecutive victories.

The champions would obviously be a step up from the other teams we’ve faced in that sequence, but the Reds have proven time and again that they can find a way past seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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