Liverpool may lead the English Premier League by five points, but its former defender John Arne Riise predicts Manchester City will retain its title.
Riise, in Malaysia to promote the ‘Battle of the Reds’ charity match between Liverpool and Manchester United legends at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on April 27, feels the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland will swing the title race City’s way.
As it stands, Liverpool leads the table with 48 points from 21 games, while City has only played 20 matches.
“Kevin and Haaland are among the two best players in the Premier League, and they will make a difference,” said Riise, who promised to play in the charity match in April.
“(Jurgen) Klopp has done a wonderful job rebuilding Liverpool after a poor season last year, and I do not think anyone expected them to be leading the table.
“Liverpool lost midfielders in Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner, but the players Klopp brought in have done well.”
Liverpool signed Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo in the summer, and they integrated better than expected.
Riise, however, said City’s squad is stronger and expects it to be a two-horse race until May, with the former pipping the latter to the league crown.
Meanwhile, Teddy Sheringham, who will lead United’s legends team, said the Red Devils will finish where they are now – eighth – and miss out on Europe.
He said the boss, Erik ten Hag, needs to sign leaders to get United back to where it belongs.
“I could not believe it in the summer when two top English players – Declan Rice and Harry Kane – were available, and United was not in the running to sign them,” said the former England international.
“When Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) was at United, we were always in the hunt for the top English talent.
“Something is not right at United. They have good players but no leaders. That is something the manager has to look at.”
Sheringham, who scored the equalising goal for United in the 1999 Champions League final, said sadly, he does not see the team playing in Europe next season.
United has collected 32 points from 21 matches, and is behind Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Tottenham, West Ham and Brighton.
The top four will qualify for the Champions League, the next two for the Europa League, and the seventh-placed team will play in the Europa Conference League.
Meanwhile, tickets for the ‘Battle of the Reds’ will be available in the coming week, with prices ranging from RM78 to RM1,888.
AllStar Sports has joined hands with WeCareJourney – an association dedicated to the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy – to launch ‘Art For Rare’. The initiative will promote six artworks featuring the autographs of Sheringham and Riise to be sold to raise funds for the local non-governmental organisation.
As a gesture of profound commitment, the tournament’s organisers have pledged to contribute 100 per cent of the proceeds from the sale of 376 tickets, each valued at RM108, to support the association.