Steve Gerrard says Liverpool are realistic title contenders for the Premier League

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The Liverpool legend is backing his former side for the Premier League title.

Steven Gerrard believes former club Liverpool are realistic Premier League title contenders going into the new season.

After a fourth-placed finish and defeat in the Champions League final, the ex-Reds captain has seen enough progress, combined with their early transfer activity, to suggest they can challenge champions Manchester City over a whole season.

“I think Liverpool are very close, I think they are knocking on the door,” Rangers boss Gerrard told Press Association Sport.

“I am delighted with where Liverpool are right now. Of course I wanted them to win the Champions League and I’m disappointed they never (did) but when you look at the big picture – and the journey they are on – it is a very exciting time being part of this Liverpool set-up.

“They have a terrific manager leading the charge and they have started making improvements and as a fan and an ex-player it is great to see.”

Asked whether they could close the 25-point gulf to City, having been only one of two sides to beat them in the league, Gerrard added: “The million dollar question.

“The gap has been big in terms of points not just for Liverpool but the chasing pack.

“I am sure Man City will strengthen again so it is a big ask but I think Liverpool are realistic title contenders going in next season.

“The form, how they played against City, they have proved they are capable.

Gerrard believes Liverpool can close the gap to City.

Gerrard believes Liverpool can close the gap to City.

“The challenge for Liverpool is can they do it over 38 games?”

Pivotal to that will be how Jurgen Klopp strengthens as – although his first-choice side was a match for any team – when injuries began to bite towards the end of the campaign, the squad looked lacking in depth.

Midfielders Naby Keita and Fabinho have already been secured and are set to make their first appearances in a pre-season friendly at Chester on Saturday.

Gerrard believes they will be pivotal in bridging the gap.

“They are recruiting very well. People want to come and play for this manager, people want to come and play for these supporters,” said the former midfielder.

“The signing of Fabinho will help. I am sure the other two or three targets they are after will help them be stronger and make the squad stronger and hopefully they can have a right good go at it.

“The starting 11 is very strong. I think by making signings naturally your bench becomes stronger.”

Goalkeeper is an area which fans want strengthening but Klopp seems set to continue with Loris Karius, who made two costly mistakes in the Champions League final even though it was later revealed he was suffering from concussion.

“Karius, to be fair to him, was getting stronger and stronger as the season when on,” said the 38-year-old Rangers manager.

“I think the key is does Jurgen think he has the mental strength to bounce back?

“Is he capable of parking that up, moving on and drawing from the experience?

“If Jurgen doesn’t think he is capable of bouncing back from that of course he will have to go into the market and get another goalkeeper but Jurgen knows him better than me.

“The easy thing to do is put a cross through his name and bin him but you have to remember he took Liverpool to the Champions League final.

“He is young so we don’t want to bin a good goalkeeper because he does have the potential to be very good.”

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Mesut Ozil to wear No.10 jersey for Arsenal

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Arsenal have given playmaker Mesut Ozil the No 10 jersey after Jack Wilshere left it vacant this summer.

The Germany international was earlier wearing No 11 for the Gunners, but will switch to No 10 in the new 2018-19 season.

Wilshere was left out of England’s World Cup squad and is also a free agent now after refusing to new contract at the Emirates Stadium.

He is expected to sign a deal with Turkish club Fenerbahce in the coming days.

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Paul Dickov convinced Manchester City will dominate English football for many years

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Set to dominate: Manchester City

A ball has not even been kicked yet but Paul Dickov has backed Manchester City to win consecutive Premier League titles next season, saying he expects them to be England’s dominant side for the foreseeable future.

City showed their class in a superb 2017-18 season where they cruised to Premier League glory with a margin of 19 points.

It was their second piece of silverware this season after their League Cup success but the manner of how they won the Premier League and City’s strength in depth has got people talking this could be the start of another domination in English football.

Liverpool and Manchester United were powerhouses in the 1990s and 2000s. With the average age of City’s squad at 27.1, ex-striker Dickov believes it’s now City’s time.

“I can see City dominating for three or four years purely because of the age of the squad,” Dickov told Sport360 at the launch of the Manchester City Trophy Tour on Tuesday. “It will be difficult to dominate in Europe because you have Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona. Those clubs have huge history and City are surely getting there. But if you look at the squad they can more than match them.”

He added: “Yet, I think the mentality of the club in Pep Guardiola and the players they will be playing in all fronts. It will be hugely difficult because it’ the Champions League and that’s the one that they want. But to win the Premier League back-to-back is one of the hardest things to do.

“It’s not been done for a very long time which shows how difficult it is. But the age of the squad and the way they performed last season, I think they will only get better.

“If you go through the likes of Ederson (24), John Stones (24) and Benjamin Mendy (23) and Raheem Sterling (23) they are all young. The experience they got from last season and the drive they had to go right to the end even when the Premier League is won will certainly help them.”

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