EPL

Heskey expects Liverpool to trail in Man City's wake but says Nunez can follow Henry and Vieira example

By Sports Desk September 30, 2022

Emile Heskey has dismissed Liverpool's title chances because he fears they will be unable to keep pace with "relentless" Manchester City.

The Premier League returns this weekend, with City already flying high and on the coat-tails of early leaders Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola's City team are undefeated with five wins and two draws so far, plus a league-high goal difference of plus 17, six better than any other side.

By contrast, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have won only two of six games to date, struggling to match the high standards they set when pushing City all the way to the final day in last season's championship.

Former Reds striker Heskey declared Liverpool are "probably not" in this season's title race, telling Stats Perform: "I think their main focus is top four now because Champions League is a must.

"I think City are relentless. Give them an inch, they'll take a mile. They know how to exploit things.

"They might be 1-0 down, but you know that they're going to come back. And this is the relentlessness that I think Liverpool had a couple of seasons ago, and they're trying to get back now.

"I don't think it's going to be a particularly bad season getting into the top four, I think it is still massive."

Heskey said "everyone knows" losing Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich amounted to "a huge miss" for Liverpool, with the sale having gone through in late June, ending a six-year Anfield stay for the Senegalese forward.

Former England international Heskey rates Luis Diaz and is hopeful Mohamed Salah will roar back to Golden Boot form, having made a somewhat underwhelming start to the campaign, with two goals and two assists in six league games.

"The thing with Mo, is we are so used to it," Heskey said of the Egyptian's prolific scoring. "But when it wasn't Mo, we had another person that could take up that mantle.

"And if you haven't got that other person to take up that mantle, who will get you the goals that Mo used to as well, you can then start pointing back at Mo and saying, 'Well, he's not doing this, he's not doing that'.

"But the pressures come with that and he understands that, and he's able to get on with that and deal with it. He's a fantastic player.

"I think just give him the ball and let him go and enjoy himself again. When you saw Mo Salah smiling, that's when you know that you've got something good. Even when he's missing chances and he's smiling, you know that he's on form."

Liverpool face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, their first domestic game in four weeks, after two postponements in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's death were followed by the international break.

Darwin Nunez has yet to show his peak Benfica form in a Liverpool shirt since switching from the Portuguese giants in the close season, but Heskey suspects the talent is there for the Uruguayan striker to become a "phenomenal" Premier League performer.

As was the case with a pair of Arsenal greats, Heskey feels Nunez could come good after a settling-in period.

Heskey said: "He's still a young player and one thing we've got to understand is, these players coming from abroad who are coming and adapting, not all of them adapt straight away.

"It's a bit of an anomaly for the ones who just come in and just fit straight in.

"You need to give them time. You've got to remember Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry didn't just fit in and click straight away, and we're talking about Premier League greats. So give him the opportunity, and give them the time to settle in. I know we don't have time, but give them time to settle in and he will be a phenomenal player."

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