Reigning Premier League champions, Liverpool are unlikely to steal the show in the title race this season, admits Jason McAteer, with Manchester City expected to come back into the picture while Manchester United may hire a new manager in by January.
A first English top-flight crown in 3 decades was clinched by the squad at Anfield last season, with Jurgen Klopp overseeing a record-setting triumph.
Fans predicted Liverpool to be as dominant again in defence of that crown, but leaks at the back have opened up and a stunning 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa last time out proves that anything is possible.
Everton and Aston Villa are the only sides at this early stage of the campaign to still boast a 100 per cent record, with the expected pack of title challengers still scratching around for consistency.
McAteer believes that will leave the title race wide open, with it possible that renewed confidence and the odd change of personnel here and there could see former champions come back into contention.
Former Liverpool midfielder McAteer told FreeSuperTips: “It’s still difficult to say whether Liverpool will run away again with the Premier League.
“As we’ve seen in the first four rounds of Premier League matches, teams seem to be struggling to win at home, with only 14 home wins out of 38 matches, which suggests that away teams have nothing to fear and play more expansive football when there are no fans in the stadium. 41 goals were scored in the last round of fixtures which is great to watch but makes things very unpredictable.
“It’s still early days but don’t count Manchester City and Manchester United out just yet.
“Pep Guardiola always loves a challenge and Manchester United might have a new manager before the next transfer window which might shake things up – a lot can happen in the next two months.”
Next up for Liverpool, who have still taken nine points from four games so far, is a derby date with Merseyside neighbours Everton.
McAteer believes the Reds could be considered underdogs at Goodison Park, given how impressive Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees have been so far, but anything is possible in contests that often see form go out of the window.
“For the first time in quite a few years, this is Everton’s best opportunity to cause an upset against Liverpool,” said a man who graced many such occasions in his playing days.
“On current form, Everton will go into the game as favourites, after an outstanding start to the season, with them winning all four games and scoring 11 goals.
“Carlo Ancelotti’s recruitment this summer was outstanding, bringing in midfield strength in the form of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan, as well as having the creativity of James Rodriguez in attack which is bringing the best out of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who deservedly won the player of the month award for scoring 11 goals including two hat-tricks in all competitions.
“Although Liverpool were beaten convincingly in their last Premier League game against Aston Villa, I do expect changes to the personnel and performance, so I don’t see Everton having it all their own way.”