The ex-Blues defender expects Pep Guardiola’s side to challenge for the crown if they remain within touching distance heading down the final stretch
Liverpool will “not be the same team” if they lose Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino, says Micah Richards, with Manchester City expected to still have a serious say in the Premier League title race.
The Reds have opened up a commanding eight-point lead at the top of the table after enjoying a faultless start to their 2019-20 campaign.
City, in contrast, have endured uncharacteristic struggles, with Pep Guardiola seeing his side suffer a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves on Sunday.
The defending champions are aware that they now have little margin for error, with many suggesting that the crown is already Liverpool’s to lose.
The Blues have, however, been forced to contend with the kind of injury problems that are yet to hinder the cause of their rivals at Anfield.
If luck deserts Jurgen Klopp, then former City defender Richards believes there will be many more twists and turns to come in a repeat of the epic title tussle which saw Guardiola’s side emerge victorious in 2018-19.
“They only thing I fear for Liverpool is if they pick up a couple of injuries,” Richards told Radio 5 Live.
“Man City are a bit short in the defensive area at the moment but as a contrast if Liverpool lost Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino they would just not be the same team,” Richards added.
“Over the course of the season, I think City will get stronger.
“During the last 10 games there is so much pressure to perform and people make mistakes.
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“If City are in touching distance by seven or eight points come February and March, I think it would be a good ride towards the end of the season.”
Richards has also suggested that Guardiola may start getting creative in a bid to return an air of invincibility to the City ranks.
Untimely injuries to the likes of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have left the Blues short of options at centre-half, with Fernandinho being asked to provide cover, but there are alternative approaches available at the Etihad Stadium.
Former full-back Richards added: “It will be interesting to see if he brings Kyle Walker into the centre-back role, only because I watched the game and Man City had a lot of the ball but on the counter attack Wolves looked very dangerous.
“If the centre-backs haven’t got pace you are going to get exposed. Maybe bringing Walker across just with his pace could be an option.”
Walker has formed part of a three-man defence with England in the recent past, with Gareth Southgate favouring that system during a run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Guardiola could take inspiration from that, but Walker was also forced from the field against Wolves through illness and will need to be fully fit for any role when domestic action resumes after the international break.