Liverpool are already out of the race for the Premier League title and could even struggle to finish in the top four, according to Gabby Agbonlahor.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently seventh in the table, six points adrift of early pacesetters Arsenal, following their 0-0 draw against Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Saturday. The Reds have won just two of their opening six fixtures, with three draws hampering their efforts to overhaul defending champions Manchester City.
Liverpool have been hamstrung by injuries in midfield, while there also appear to be issues at both ends of the pitch. They were perhaps fortunate to leave Goodison Park with a point after Conor Coady saw a goal ruled out by VAR and Neal Maupay squandered the best chance of the game.
Agbonlahor has not been shy in his criticism of Liverpool – and Klopp in particular – and the former Aston Villa striker has seen enough to rule them out of the title race. Asked on talkSPORT whether they could miss out on the top four, he replied: “100 per cent. This is not a battle for the title. Liverpool, for me, are not fighting for the Premier League title this season.
“They are fighting to stay in the top four because Arsenal are on it. Spurs are on it – they’re knowing how to win games, Arsenal and Spurs. They’ve got that winning mentality and they’re winning games. Chelsea will get better.”
Agbonlahor was critical of the way Klopp set up Liverpool’s midfield against Everton. “Salah doesn’t look like he’s going to score and that is not like Mo Salah,” he said. “He has to come out wide and find space. The midfield didn’t work. They played Fabinho as a sitter and in front of him [Harvey] Elliott and [Fabio] Carvalho. It just didn’t work for me today.
At the back, [Andy] Robertson was dropped, Trent [Alexander-Arnold] got taken off after 60 minutes. Something isn’t right with that defence with Liverpool and they are dropping too many points. In previous seasons Everton would have totally parked the bus and played for a couple of counter-attacks. Today, they were flying forwards.”
Agbonlahor believes that Liverpool need a world-class midfielder, like Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, to be able to compete with the likes of Manchester City for the title. “The midfield for me… yes, they’ve signed Arthur from Juventus. He’s OK,” he added. “But [Jordan] Henderson wasn’t there today. Thiago, [Naby] Keita, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain are all injured. They really need a Bellingham in there because, for me, they’re not fighting for a league title this season.”
It is unlikely that Klopp will pay much attention to Agbonlahor’s comments, given his previous critique of his punditry. The Liverpool boss said he was nearly moved to call in to talkSPORT after being outraged by Agbonlahor’s comments following Manchester United’s 4-0 defeat by Brentford last month. “I was close to calling in and telling him, you forgot completely what it’s like to be a player,” he said. “It was unbelievable! When ex-players go like this then you can imagine how everything else is going.”