Reds old boys back transfer policy

On his full debut, Adrian's penalty shoot-out save gave Liverpool victory over Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup. But the backup goalkeeper made a howler with his clearance at Southampton to give away a goal last Saturday.
On his full debut, Adrian's penalty shoot-out save gave Liverpool victory over Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup. But the backup goalkeeper made a howler with his clearance at Southampton to give away a goal last Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Owen and McManaman tip Liverpool to exploit Arsenal's defensive frailties

In Jurgen Klopp they trust, and so former Liverpool stars Michael Owen and Steve McManaman have tipped the Reds to beat Arsenal 3-1 in today's clash at Anfield.

Still, Owen is wary of the Gunners' quality.

Calling Unai Emery's men "probably the best Arsenal team for a number of years", the former England striker told The Straits Times: "I haven't been very complimentary about Arsenal over the years but... now I look at them and I see a big improvement.

"They probably did better business than anybody else in the Premier League over the summer with their transfers.

"They've addressed their defence by signing two defenders in David Luiz (£8 million/S$13.6 million, from Chelsea) and Keiran Tierney (£25 million from Celtic), and all of a sudden they look a much stronger team. So they're going to be a big test for Liverpool."

Arsenal also broke their club record to sign Lille forward Nicolas Pepe for £72 million to bolster an attack already comprising last season's Premier League joint top-scorer with 22 league goals, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette, who scored 13.

The Londoners also signed Spain playmaker Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid.

VITAL MISSION

The big question is whether they can keep (their main three forwards) Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, fit... If two of them get bad injuries, they'll have problems.

STEVE MCMANAMAN, former Liverpool player, on the importance of the three key players.

McManaman, 47, however, was less impressed.

He said: "Arsenal have got goals and are good going forward at the moment... (but) I don't think Arsenal's defence is good enough for them to win the league."

He and Owen, both former Real Madrid players, were in Singapore for the partnership signing ceremony between the Spanish La Liga and licensed crypto token exchange brand GCOX on Tuesday.

While their main rivals have all strengthened their squads with big-money signings, Liverpool have added only back-up goalkeepers Adrian and Andy Lonergan on free transfers, and teenagers Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott at minimal cost.

McManaman said the approach was prudent given Liverpool had spent £150 million and £160 million in the previous two seasons to address deficiencies in the squad.

But he added: "The big question is whether they can keep (their main three forwards) Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who all had big, hard, summers in the Copa America and the African Cup of Nations, fit.

"If they can keep them fit, they'll be fine. If two of them get bad injuries, they'll have problems."

The Reds finished one point behind champions Manchester City last season.

Owen, 39, also pointed to the return of players like Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - both missed significant parts of last term with injuries - and a stronger push by fringe players like Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri, as proof of the squad's depth.

"I think over the summer nobody really expected Klopp would buy anybody to come into the first XI," said Owen.

"He's got Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gomez back... and other players like Keita who will look to improve from his first season and contribute much more.

"So there're certain angles where you can expect a little bit of improvement from Liverpool."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2019, with the headline 'Reds old boys back transfer policy'. Print Edition | Subscribe