‘I don’t think we are strong enough depth-wise’: Liverpool legend John Arne Riise is ‘SCARED’ that Jurgen Klopp’s side do not have what it takes to compete with Chelsea and Man City in the Premier League title race
- Liverpool are currently behind Chelsea and Manchester City in the title race
- The Reds lost 3-2 to West Ham and now lie fourth in table – four points off the top
- John Arne Riise is concerned Liverpool do not have the squad to compete well
- Riise believes losing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to AFCON could be crucial
Liverpool legend John Arne Riise is concerned that his former club are not ‘strong enough depth-wise’ to keep with Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League title race.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds suffered a setback last week in their quest to reclaim the top-flight title, losing 3-2 away to West Ham to slip to fourth in the table – four points behind leaders Chelsea.
It was Liverpool’s first league defeat in 25 matches, with the Reds just clinging on to a top four spot at the back end of last season – but Riise believes Klopp’s men could continue to struggle should an injury crisis emerge like it did last season.
John Arne Riise is ‘scared’ that Liverpool do not have enough depth for the top-flight title race
Riise (above) believes the title could be decided by who has the best squad and fewest injuries
‘I’m a little bit concerned about the depth in the squad,’ Riise told talkSPORT. ‘I don’t think we have the top, top players when we lose (players). Like last season, when we lost (Virgil) Van Dijk and a few other players, you could see we struggled.
‘I’m scared it could be the same this year. When people are injured, suspended or even for the African Nations Cup when we lose some players, I’m a little bit worried that it is where the title is going decided.
‘I don’t think we are strong enough depth-wise in the long-run with Manchester City or Chelsea.’
The Reds lost key defenders Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk to long-term knee injuries, while the likes of Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson struggled for fitness last season -which severely dented Liverpool’s title defence.
Jurgen Klopp’s (above) side lost 3-2 to West Ham to leave the Reds fourth in the league table
Liverpool will lose Mohamed Salah (left) and Sadio Mane (right) in early January for AFCON
WHICH GAMES* COULD SALAH AND MANE MISS FOR LIVERPOOL?
28 Dec: Leicester City (a) – league
Jan 2: Chelsea (a) – league
Jan 9: FA Cup third round (TBC)
Jan 15: Brentford (h) – league
Jan 22: Crystal Palace (a) – league
Jan 29: FA Cup fourth round
Feb 9: Leicester City (h) – league
Feb 12: Burnley (a) – league
*In the event of Egypt and Senegal going far in AFCON
Klopp’s side dropped as far down as eighth in the Premier League table with ten games to go, but the German manager was able to steer the ship to finish in third spot.
This season, Liverpool have managed to avoid multiple major injuries so far, with promising midfielder Harvey Elliott the only long-term absentee with a broken ankle.
Thiago Alcantara has also struggled for fitness with a calf problem this season but returned to the pitch against West Ham.
But the 2020 Premier League winners will lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita to the African Cup of Nations in early January, which could harm their title hopes.
The Liverpool trio could miss as many as eight matches for the Reds should their respective countries go far in the tournament, with reports claiming Premier League players may have to start missing games from after Boxing Day.
Salah and Mane are expected to miss a crucial Premier League title-deciding clash to Chelsea on January 2, along with two clashes with Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester and the start of the Reds’ FA Cup challenge.