Liverpool hero Steve Nicol has admitted he feels worried about Jurgen Klopp’s centre-back pairing of Nat Phillips and Joe Gomez ahead of this weekend’s trip to face Manchester City.
Liverpool travel to the Etihad on Saturday in the Premier League and have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.
The league leaders are in red-hot form after an impressive 5-0 win over Atalanta in the Champions League this week.
Diogo Jota scored his first hat-trick for the club in the rout as he gave Klopp a selection headache ahead of the match.
He has staked his claim for a place in the first XI, and the German manager will have to choose between him and Roberto Firmino in his front three.
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But it’s at the back that Nicol is concerned, as he explained on ESPN FC that he is worried about the centre-back pairing.
Due to Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho’s injuries, Klopp will likely play Phillips and Gomez at the back, though Joel Matip returned to training earlier this week.
Manchester City put three past Olympiakos in the Champions League this week in their third consecutive win across all competitions.
And Nicol revealed that he believes if Liverpool’s defence are able to cope with City’s attack, then the Premier League champions will have no problem winning the game.
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“For me, it’s all about who plays centre-back for Liverpool and how they cope with Manchester City,” he said.
“Unfortunately for Liverpool, Jesus playing some part [against Olympiacos] means if Sergio Aguero isn’t starting then Jesus will start.
“I’d imagine it’ll be Nat Phillips partnering Joe Gomez in the middle of the back line.
“That’s it for me, if Phillips and Gomez have a good game then Liverpool will win this game.
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“I think right now, going forward they’re way better than Man City.
“City have recently been struggling to get the ball in the back of the net.
“If Liverpool’s back line is at it’s best and can shut that City line down then it looks like a Liverpool victory.
“It really depends on Liverpool’s back line.
“I would certainly swap what City have – Ake and Laporte – for Gomez and Phillips.
“That’s how worried I am, because Laporte and Ake are oaky.
“It’s all about the centre-backs for Liverpool, if they’re on their game then Liverpool win this game, for me.”
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