By Joe Moore
Liverpool have been predicted to win the Premier League title this season by former Man City boss Stuart Pearce, who has also tipped Luis Diaz to be crowned Player of the Year.
The England legend was hugely impressed by Jurgen Klopp’s side as they beat City 3-1 to win the Community Shield on Saturday.
Liverpool were on it from the first whistle to the last and wrapped up a deserved win in style, thanks to new £85million star signing Darwin Nunez who fired in a late goal.
In comparison, City looked off the pace at times, with Pep Guardiola’s players appearing to not be on the same wavelength as their new striker Erling Haaland, who cut a frustrated figure in an isolated performance.
Man City have been widely tipped for title glory again, with many expecting the arrival of Haaland to fire them out of sight at the top of the table.
But, on Saturday’s evidence, it appears that partnership will take time, while Pearce believes Liverpool have more ‘hunger’ than their rivals after their tight battle last term.
Liverpool lifted the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, but fell just short of adding the Premier League and Champions League titles too – and Pearce insists that will be the fuel in another stunning campaign for Klopp’s side.
“If you asked me who I think will win the league this year, it will be Liverpool,” said the talkSPORT pundit, speaking live from the commentary box at the King Power Stadium.
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“Personally, with City winning the league twice in a row, I think it takes away a couple of per cent.
“I think Liverpool will have that little bit more hunger in their bellies and their striker options are so outstanding. So yes, I think they’re the ones and they’ll beat Man City this year.
“They’ve got something to prove in the Premier League. I think it’ll be a great battle and I can only see the two of them going head-to-head again. If another team breaks into that I’d be a little surprised.
“Credit to City, they’ve pushed the standard up once again, but these two are going head-to-head and I think Liverpool might just nick it.”
While Liverpool fans were going mad for Nunez, the likes of Mohamed Salah and Diaz also impressed in a lively performance from the Reds’ front men.
It’s fair to say Klopp’s team looks weaker on paper following the departure of star Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich earlier this summer, but Pearce insists Diaz could develop into a stronger player and more potent goalscorer.
And he believes the Colombian will enjoy a stunning first full season in the Premier League and will be the English top flight’s best-performing player.
“I think Diaz could be Player of the Year,” said Pearce.
“I was so impressed with Diaz last season, how he hit the ground running, his goals, his effort. He’s almost unshakable on the ball, I really like him.
“Will Liverpool miss Mane, of course, but I think Diaz could be a slightly better player and a better goalscorer.
“I think he could be a special player this year. What a talent.
“And Nunez, I’d certainly been impressed with him prior to his move to Liverpool, but on today’s showing he’s had a real impact, good energy, he’ll offer more movement in behind.
“He’s given Liverpool a different dimension. Liverpool have had wonderful options all over the pitch, they’ve had movement and pace, but in Nunez they’ve now got someone who plays at the point of the team, who is happy to run in behind, who has physical presence. He’s just offering them something different on top of everything they’ve already got.
“They’ve got a front three that has pace, power, can run in behind, get the ball and taking you on, and then you’ve got Jota outside of that, and he’s just been brilliant and has gone up a level since his Wolves days, and Firmino who offers you a different type of attacking option as well.
“Wow, they’ve got so many options. If Liverpool can keep things tight at the back for me I think they’ll win the division this season.
“Before the game started people were writing Liverpool off, but after watching them for 90 minutes with Nunez, Salah and Diaz on form, you’re thinking: ‘Wow.
“I don’t know who is spreading the word that they’re not ready for the season – whoever that is, I think they’ve got that horribly wrong.”