Former Anfield great Robbie Fowler believes Liverpool can still mount a Premier League title challenge even if they slip 10 points behind the leaders with defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.
Liverpool have endured an indifferent start to the season and are seven points off the pace, while their clash with United has been billed by some as must-win if they have designs on a first top-flight crown since 1990.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was adamant after his side’s draw with Newcastle prior to the international break that Liverpool would be in the running for honours come May, and Fowler shares a similar, if qualified, confidence.
“It’s not the be-all and end-all if Liverpool lose,” Fowler, who scored 183 goals in 369 appearances across two spells for the Merseysiders, told City A.M.
“That said, it’s more important for Liverpool to get a result than it is Manchester United.
“But even if Liverpool go 10 points behind Manchester United or Manchester City they have got to play them again and it’s been proven many times over the years that anyone can beat anyone.
“The season has barely kicked off and Liverpool are not a million miles away from the top teams without playing really well.
“I can see where Jurgen Klopp is coming from, although if Liverpool want to be classed as title challengers then they do need to start getting points on the board.”
Fuelled by the goals of £75m striker Romelu Lukaku, second-placed United have made a blistering start to the campaign, winning six of seven matches and scoring 21 goals in the process.
But having not yet played an opponent currently in the top 10 and beaten five of the bottom six, Fowler has reservations about whether the Old Trafford outfit are the real deal.
“Manchester United have had an unbelievable start, they are playing well and scoring goals, but looking at the teams they’ve played they should be beating them,” added Fowler.
“There are bigger hurdles to come and greater tests ahead. They have now got a month where they play some of the so-called bigger teams [including Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea].
“In the next month we’ll probably get more of a glimpse of where Manchester United are going to be at the end of season.”
Perhaps no other fixture in English football exudes such tribal rivalry as Liverpool-United, yet Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford are the sole players likely to be playing who were born in the cities of their respective teams.
Fowler, however, believes it is impossible for the intensity and significance of the occasion to be lost on the players regardless of their birthplace.
“It’s a valid question but if the attitude of the fans doesn’t spill onto the pitch and drive you on as a player then you shouldn’t be playing the game,” said the 42-year-old. “You run through brick walls in games like this.”
Robbie Fowler was speaking on behalf of TAG Heuer to promote the TAG Heuer Premier League Pressure Test. TAG Heuer is the Official Timekeeping Partner of the Premier League.