Liverpool will beat Man City on one condition, says Paul Merson | Football

Liverpool have been without Mohamed Salah for their last four matches (Picture: Getty)

Paul Merson has backed Liverpool to get the better of champions Manchester City as long as their ‘X-factor’, Mohamed Salah, returns to provide a ‘fear factor’ at Anfield.

Salah, 31, Liverpool’s top scorer this season with 19 goals, picked up a hamstring duty while on duty with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations and has missed the Reds’ last four games.

Liverpool’s squad has been tested to the limit in recent weeks but the Premier League leaders have coped admirably in their talisman’s absence, with Jurgen Klopp having to rely heavily on the club’s young talent.

Salah has been joined in the treatment room by the likes of Alisson, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai and Klopp will be desperate for his top stars to make speedy recoveries as Liverpool push for a historic quadruple this season.

The Liverpool manager could be tempted to rest Salah in Liverpool’s Europa League last-16 clash with Sparta Prague on Thursday night, even if the Egyptian proves his fitness, but there are hopes the forward will make his comeback versus title rivals City this weekend.

Sunday’s heavyweight clash on Merseyside could prove pivotal in the context of this season’s intriguing Premier League title race and ex-Arsenal and England midfielder Merson believes Salah’s involvement will likely decide the result.

‘Salah gives Liverpool their X-factor and they’ll beat Man City if he plays,’ Merson said in his Sky Sports column.

Ex-Arsenal and England star Paul Merson

Merson expects Liverpool to beat City should Salah be passed fit (Picture: Getty)

‘Without him, I don’t see how they’re going to hurt City on a consistent basis. With Salah, they’ll get after Man City and put them under severe pressure by closing down high up the pitch.

He is one of the best players in the world and takes chances – Liverpool will get enough chances to win if Salah plays.

‘Salah carries that fear factor too and will make Man City think.’

Klopp is preparing to face Guardiola for what could be the last time as Liverpool boss (Picture: Getty)

City, last year’s treble winners, trail top-of-the-table Liverpool by just one point after coming from behind to seal a 3-1 victory in last weekend’s Manchester derby.

And according to Merson, a win for City on Sunday would have Arsenal feeling they need to avoid defeat when they head to the Etihad at the end of the month.

‘If Man City win it then Arsenal will be thinking they have to avoid defeat at the Etihad. Arsenal might want Liverpool to win this game rather than City,’ he added.

‘Man City look like they’re playing 12 or 13 players every week. Their patience is unbelievable.

‘The way they keep the ball and don’t force it. They wait and wait for a chance. There’s such an art in that.

‘I’ve seen City at Anfield too many times and it’s hard a place to go when it’s bouncing, but Salah has to play for Liverpool to win this game.’

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