Alisson has made Liverpool ‘genuine’ Premier League title contenders, says Gary Neville

Alisson replaced Loris Karius as Liverpool’s number one in the summer (Picture: Getty)Manchester United legend Gary Neville believes Alisson has made Liverpool ‘genuine’ candidates for the title this season.

Alisson, 26, joined from Roma for a then world-record fee of £65million in the summer and has been an instant hit on Merseyside, becoming the first ever Liverpool player to remain unbeaten after their first 16 Premier League matches.

The Brazilian has conceded only six goals in the English top flight since his debut and his contribution has helped the Reds leapfrog Manchester City at the top of the table.

Neville hailed Alisson’s impact and believes the goalkeeper has been more influential than Virgil van Dijk.

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Speaking about Liverpool on Monday Night Football, Neville said: ‘Alisson has saved Liverpool on numerous occasion this season; earned them big points.

‘Great goalkeepers win you point after point after point after point. You don’t always notice it. So is Van Dijk the biggest impact on that team? No it’s not.

Alisson is expected to start against Napoli on Tuesday evening (Picture: Getty)‘Look at the stats: 86 per cent save ratio – the highest in the league. Last season it was 64 per cent (ranked 19th).

‘Yes, the two young lads alongside Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are fantastic – and I love watching them play.

‘But for me it’s the goalkeeper [Alisson] who has made all the difference and makes them genuine contenders.’

Gary Neville believes Alisson has turned Liverpool into title contenders (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp praised Alisson’s attitude following Liverpool’s 3-1 victory away to Burnley.

‘The best thing is not talking about a goalkeeper – that means he is without any mistakes, but after the last game… again, he had a big, big part in the game,’ Klopp said.

‘After the game, I think everybody saw the goal Burnley scored should have been disallowed. It was a difficult decision, especially the offside.

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‘That’s how it is. It’s the view of the ref or the assistant, in this case. But it was offside. Then he [had] both hands on the ball. That’s one thing.

‘The other thing is, he stayed in the game and when we were 2-1 up made a brilliant save.

‘And with the next ball, that’s his attitude – he doesn’t stand on his line or wait, he goes out and catches it, then counter-attack. That’s a really exciting package the boy delivers and it helped us a lot, of course.’

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Jamie Carragher mocks Gary Neville over his combined Liverpool-Manchester United XI

The former right-back named two players who can’t get in Mourinho’s team! (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville was ridiculed by Jamie Carragher for picking both Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly in his combined Liverpool-Manchester United XI – even though they aren’t playing for the Red Devils.

The two teams face off at Anfield on Sunday, though have Champions League matches in midweek first, with Jose Mourinho’s side trailing league leaders Liverpool by 16 points after as many matches.

Both Neville and Carragher picked their combined XIs for Sunday’s game – with the rule that no injured players can be included – and the former United right-back struggled to get many of his old club’s players in the side.

Neville named four United players in his combined XI (Picture: Sky Sports)In the end he picked just four – Pogba, Bailly, David de Gea and Anthony Martial – though Carragher was not impressed with his decision making process.

On picking Bailly

JC: ‘Baily doesn’t even get in the United team so why’s he getting in a combined team?’GN: ‘I just fancied putting a United player in the back four, to be honest.’JC: ‘He doesn’t even play does he?’GN: ‘To be fair, do I think Matip and Lovren, individually, are brilliant? Not really. Do I think Bailly is brilliant? Not really. But I think actually if Bailly was put in that back four, he’d be the best of the three of them. I must admit it was tough. It was a flip of the coin.’

On picking Pogba

GN: ‘Pogba I just thought holding in midfield-JC: ‘Holding!?’GN: ‘Yeah, I put him holding.[Carragher bursts out laughing]JC: ‘Pogba holding? Holding what? Oh my god. He’s the most undisciplined player of all time.’GN: ‘He’s holding with Wijnaldum and Keita. I didn’t pick him with much conviction to be honest with you! I was clutching at straws.’

Neville stuck by his decision to include Pogba and, even though he is not in Mourinho’s good books at the moment, believes the Frenchman is a world-class midfielder.

He continued: ‘I still think Pogba is Manchester United’s best central midfield player. I actually still think, out of all the central midfield players of both clubs, he’s the most talented.’

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Gary Neville praises Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren as top class

Lovren played in defence for Croatia’s clash with England (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville believes Dejan Lovren is a top defender and praised the Liverpool star’s passion when it comes to playing for Croatia.

Lovren and Croatia were beaten by England at Wembley on Sunday when the Three Lions staged a late comeback to win the game 2-1 and qualify for the Uefa Nations League finals next summer.

England fans were irked by Lovren’s pre-game mind games, and the centre-back was roundly trolled by supporters after the result.

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Neville, who has criticised Lovren in the past, praised the Croatian’s confidence and admitted he rates the Red highly.

‘I have to say that for me with Lovren, when he was at Southampton I absolutely loved him. When Liverpool signed him it didn’t surprise me at all,’ Neville told Sky Sports.

‘I think it took him time to settle in. I think now he actually seems to be getting better again. He’s passionate about playing for his country.

England staged a late comeback against Croatia (Picture: Getty)‘I did think that he and [Domagoj] Vida at the World Cup would struggle, I thought he would give them more problems.

‘But they did quite well in the game in the end. He’s confident in himself, he’s got a lot of belief. To be fair, when he’s at his best he’s a top centre half.’

Lovren will now return to Liverpool as the Reds prepare to resume club action against Watford on Saturday.

(Picture: Getty)Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk have been Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice centre-back pairing, as Lovren returned from his World Cup exploits injured.

Lovren has only started three Premier League games as a result, but will have a chance to reclaim his spot in Klopp’s team with a busy winter period ahead for the Reds.

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Xherdan Shaqiri hits back after Gary Neville brands Liverpool star ‘unprofessional’

Xherdan Shaqiri has responded to Gary Neville’s criticism (Picture: Getty)Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri has hit back after Gary Neville labelled him ‘unprofessional’ for his behaviour at Stoke City last season.

Shaqiri has had an impressive start on Merseyside following his £13.5million move in the summer but the 27-year-old was heavily criticised for distancing himself from team-mates before heading out the exit door at Stoke.

He memorably stated that ‘even a Ronaldinho could do little’ to improve Stoke’s fortunes, complaining about a ‘lack of quality’ around him at the Britannia.

The Potters were subsequently relegated from the Premier League and Manchester United legend Neville slammed the way Shaqiri acted.

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‘I’m not a fan of Shaqiri to be honest with you,’ Neville said back in June.

‘I think that was to be fair made worse by the fact that he distanced himself from his team-mates as Stoke. They were unprofessional last season Stoke there’s no doubt and he epitomises it.’

Gary Neville isn’t the biggest fan of Xherdan Shaqiri (Picture: Getty)Shaqiri has responded to Neville by claiming that he takes no notice of his criticism.

Asked if he would ever go for a coffee with Neville, the Swiss told Blick: ‘Not at all. I do not care what he says. I do not care if he says now that I’m playing hard.

‘Many have ridiculed after the transfer that Liverpool is too big for me. But I was always calm, too, when I got little playing time at the beginning.

‘I knew, of course because of the experience at Bayern and Inter, that I have to be patient, work focused and then take my chance when I get it.’

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Shaqiri teased Neville earlier this season by sending a Liverpool shirt after the ex-United man lost a bet with Jamie Carragher.

‘It was an idea of the club that I liked to follow,’ he explained.

‘But I do not bring my services for my critics.’

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Gary Neville rules Arsenal and Chelsea out of the Premier League title race

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville doubts Arsenal and Chelsea will challenge for the Premier League title this season.

Both London clubs have enjoyed impressive starts to the 2018-19 campaign, with Chelsea joint-top going into the second international break of the season.

The Blues look revitalised under Maurizio Sarri – who replaced Antonio Conte as manager in the summer – and are yet to be beaten in the league.

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Arsenal, meanwhile, won their ninth consecutive game in all competitions on Sunday, thrashing Fulham 5-1 at Craven Cottage.

But despite their scintillating form, Neville doubts Arsenal or Chelsea will challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for the title.

‘I don’t think Arsenal… I don’t think they’ll be challenging for the title,’ the former Manchester United and England defender told Sky Sports.

Gary Neville reveals which Premier League player has impressed him the most this season

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville has been impressed by four Premier League players so far this season – but says one star stands out from the rest.

After seven games of the 2018-19 campaign, reigning champions Manchester City are joined by Liverpool at the top of the table on 19 points.

Like City and Liverpool, Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea are also unbeaten but have dropped to third after drawing two consecutive games.

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North London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal are level on points in fourth and fifth, with struggling Manchester United down in tenth after losing three games already.

Neville has been impressed by Chelsea’s in-form forward Eden Hazard, Manchester United defender Luke Shaw and Liverpool’s James Milner and Virgil van Dijk.

But the former England defender says it is Van Dijk, who joined Liverpool for £75million last year, who has impressed him the most.

Virgil van Dijk has made a superb start to the new season (Picture: Getty)He told Sky Sports Super 6: ‘Milner for Liverpool, who have been outstanding. Virgil van Dijk: outstanding.

‘Luke Shaw at Manchester United, I’ve been really pleased with him. I’ve got full belief in him and his talent. He just needs that break in terms of staying clear of injuries.

‘Eden Hazard is a wonderful player. He probably is [the best in the league]. David Silva I love. De Bruyne is brilliant. [David] De Gea has been one of the top players over the last few years.

‘They are the type of players who have impressed me most.

‘But Van Dijk – worryingly – has impressed me more than anybody. He’s just a fantastic central defender.’

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has also heaped praise on Dutch star Van Dijk, labelling him Jurgen Klopp’s most important player this season.

‘I think Liverpool look really solid, and they have since Van Dijk came in,’ Carragher said.

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‘Opposition teams now look at Liverpool and they don’t see that weakness defensively they’ve seen before in Klopp’s team.

‘The front three, who have been absolute superstars for Liverpool, aren’t quite firing the way they were last season.

‘I’m sure that will come in the coming weeks and months but certainly, at the other end of the pitch, they’re doing their job.’

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Jurgen Klopp hits back at Manchester United legend Gary Neville over Liverpool Champions League advice

Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League after a perfect start to the new season (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville’s suggestion that Liverpool should consider forfeiting the Champions League this season.

The Reds sit top of the table after four wins from four games so far and look well equipped to challenge Manchester City and win what would be their first league title since 1990.

Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League last season but Neville believes, despite three major signings during the close season, Klopp’s side is still not equipped to challenge on multiple fronts.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s testing trip to Wembley to face Tottenham, Klopp laughed off Neville’s suggestion and insists he will send out his side to win every game they play.

He said: ‘Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. How do you prepare a game and not focus on it? You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!

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‘I don’t know what he means with that, to be honest. We have to play football. A lot of people watch our games when we play Champions League and that’s our job that we do the best we can do in all these games.

‘That’s what we try. I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly.

‘If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.

Liverpool have made a 100% start to the new season with four wins from four games (Picture: Getty)‘Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said, ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win’.

‘It doesn’t work like this. I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest.

‘But it’s an opinion. What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?’

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher reveal Premier League predictions for top-four, POTY & Golden Boot

Carragher and Neville made their predictions (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are both expecting Chelsea and Arsenal to miss out on a place in the 2019/20 Champions League, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all predicted to finish inside the top-four.

The Manchester United and Liverpool legends are both in agreement that Pep Guardiola’s side will finish the season on top of the pile, with Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri both failing to secure elite European football in their first seasons in the Premier League.

Arsenal have lost both of their opening two matches against City and Chelsea, while Sarri has enjoyed an 100% start to life in England along with Spurs, Liverpool and City.

Despite Jose Mourinho cutting an unhappy figure and United losing early in the season to Brighton, the Sky Sports pundits both expect him to turn it around and guide his side into the top-four.

Guardiola is tipped to defend the title (Picture: TNS via Getty)Both also agree that Everton will be the closest team to challenging the established top six under new boss Marco Silva, while they are tipping David Silva to be crowned as Player of the Year.

However, they disagree on who will end the year as top scorer.

Neville expects Sergio Aguero, who bagged a hat-trick against Huddersfield at the weekend, to end the year at the top of the pile, while Carragher sees Harry Kane banging in the most goals.

The duo made predictions for a young player to keep an eye on, with Neville expecting a big season from City hotshot Phil Foden and Carragher hoping to see a lot from Fulham’s teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon.

And finally, they each predicted a player to watch. Both went for a Liverpool star, with Neville viewing Brazil international Allisson as a great signing from Jurgen Klopp and Carragher thinking the same of Naby Keita.

Carragher & Neville Premier League predictions

Title winner

Neville: Manchester CityCarragher: Manchester City

Top-four

Neville: Liverpool, Manchester United, SpursCarragher: Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs

Top goalscorer

Neville: Sergio AgueroCarragher: Harry Kane

Player of the Year

Neville: David SilvaCarragher: David Silva

Young talent

Neville: Phil FodenCarragher: Ryan Sessegnon

One to watch

Neville: AllissonCarragher: Naby Keita

Top-six challengers

Neville: EvertonCarragher: Everton

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Gary Neville rates Manchester United’s chances of winning the title after Brighton defeat

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville fears Manchester United are ‘nowhere near good enough’ to win the Premier League this season.

After beating Leicester City 2-1 in their opening game, the Red Devils suffered a hugely disappointing defeat at Brighton on Sunday.

Goals from Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross provided Brighton with a 3-1 lead at half-time despite Romelu Lukaku’s header.

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Paul Pogba scored an injury-time penalty but Brighton held on for a well-deserved victory over Jose Mourinho’s side.

Asked whether he believes Manchester United can win the title this season, Neville told Sky Sports: ‘That’s the big question.

‘It will get better and United will get stronger with players back. I do think United will finish in the top four.

Brighton caused an upset against the Red Devils (Picture: PA)‘But that’s not always been the benchmark with the club who usually aspire to win titles.

‘At this moment in time it looks unlikely. It looks unlikely that they’re anywhere near good enough.

‘That back four is not good enough to win the title. The midfield is strong… Up front is strong. But that back four will always cause you problems and concede goals.

‘Jose knows what it takes to win titles and the base is a good defence.’

Jose Mourinho’s side finished second last season (Picture: Getty)The centre-back pairing of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof endured a difficult afternoon, with Bailly conceding a penalty and Lindelof’s performance drawing criticism from Paul Scholes.

Mourinho admitted his team made some ‘incredible mistakes’, telling reporters: ‘We were punished by the mistakes we made.

‘For me that’s the story of the game. We made incredible mistakes in some crucial moments. Mistakes that killed us.’

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Brighton manager Chris Hughton, meanwhile, said he was proud of each and every one of his players after they secured another famous win over United.

‘I thought we were very good. It was a victory we deserved,’ he said.

‘There’s not a player that didn’t play well. To get that result with the quality they have you have to put in a good performance.’

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Gary Neville compares Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United legend Jaap Stam

Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool in January for a world-record £75m (Picture: Getty)Gary Neville has compared Virgil van Dijk to Manchester United hero Jaap Stam and says the Liverpool defender is a ‘monster’.

Netherlands international Van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history last winter after joining Liverpool for a fee of £75million from Southampton.

Van Dijk was quick to adjust to his new surroundings at Anfield, playing a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s side reached the Champions League final.

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The 27-year-old also impressed in Liverpool’s Premier League victory over West Ham on Sunday as the Reds started the 2018-19 campaign with a 4-0 thrashing.

Neville says Van Dijk has made a huge impact at Liverpool and says the centre-back is beginning to remind him of Dutch legend Stam, who won three Premier League titles with Manchester United.

Speaking on the Gary Neville Podcast for Sky Sports, he said: ‘I thought Van Dijk was a good player at Southampton, but I didn’t think he was worth £75m.

‘I also didn’t think he would have the impact on Liverpool’s defence that he’s had.

Van Dijk helped Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 on Sunday (Picture: Getty)‘He’s a monster, and is looking a bit like Jaap Stam, which worries me as a Manchester United fan. It looks like he just throws people out of the way.

‘You look at that midfield, with Wijnaldum, Keita and Milner, with Henderson and Fabinho still to come in. There is some strength in depth there.

‘Can Liverpool reproduce that high-intensity football Saturday-Wednesday? And did they need another centre-forward in case Firmino is out?

‘Because I do think there is a big drop in intensity in their play when him or Salah are not playing.’

Gary Neville has heaped praise on Van Dijk and Liverpool (Picture: Getty)Having bolstered Klopp’s squad with five key signings over the summer, Liverpool are expected to challenge Manchester City for the title this season.

They finished fourth during the last campaign, 25 points behind Pep Guardiola’s rampant champions.

‘I think Liverpool are the side [City] will feel threatened by directly,’ Neville added. ‘Certainly in terms of the style of play, Liverpool have certainly got the measure of Manchester City. You can see that.

‘City like to push up the pitch, the centre-backs play high and even push in when they’re attacking. The likes of Mane, Salah, Firmino, if you leave space in-behind, they just cut right through you.

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‘I think directly there is a threat, and I think indirectly in terms of the bigger picture in the league, certainly with the signings they have made, the good feeling of getting into a Champions League final and finishing in the top four consecutive seasons is something where City will feel a threat.

‘People are not feeling that way about Manchester United or Tottenham or Chelsea at this moment in time, because of what has happened in pre-season.

‘But there does seem to be a definite threat from Liverpool at this moment in time, but Liverpool will have to prove that.’

Liverpool travel to south London on Monday evening to face Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

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