Craig Bellamy: Liverpool are the ultimate test of Man City’s title credentials

After starring for both Premier League giants as a player, Bellamy doesn’t hold back on either ahead of the weekend’s biggest game…

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With the way Liverpool play, this match is going to be a great test of Manchester City’s title credentials.

You could see Pep Guardiola desperately wanted another centre half this summer because he was trying hard to bring one in. With City playing three at the back at present, he needs more cover in that area.

The strengthening of the full back region was something that definitely needed to happen though, and I wouldn’t have kept any of the players Manchester City let go this summer. It simply didn’t work out for Nolito, while Jesus Navas’ time had come and the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gaël Clichy had all run their course.

They’ve done a great job for the team, but that group had come to the end of their City careers. Without being too harsh, it might have even been a year too late to let them go.

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The Sanchez/Aguero merry-go-round

Pep still needs another centre back, and maybe another superstar like Alexis Sanchez.

Every team needs a Sanchez, even Man City. It doesn’t matter who you are: he’s a player you should always go for if it’s possible to get him. He brings a totally different dimension to the game.

Speaking of costs and looking at what City have spent this summer, it’s accurate to say I just don’t understand Financial Fair Play. It seems like big-spending clubs can do what they want.

When you’re talking about Man City and PSG, these are teams owned by countries, not a businessman. You can’t be sure if they are breaking rules and, if they aren’t, the question is how are they doing it?

As for the attack the Citizens already possess, I reckon there’ll be a mixture of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus or both playing up top this season.

You never know which way Guardiola will go, but Aguero has been incredible in the Premier League and at Man City overall. Despite the rumours of a bit of unrest, of course I’d keep him at the club.

We all tend to concentrate on the one or two games for which he’s left out. As football fans, we can’t handle that and we believe there must be a problem in the camp.

However, if you look at Aguero’s fitness record, it’s not great at times and Man City have lost a couple of titles with him being injured at the wrong time. Part of me thinks there are times when it’s right to take him out because you need him across the whole season.

If Aguero’s involved at the business end of the season, you’ve got a chance of winning stuff. He’s the kind of player you’d be crazy not to keep.

An Ox in the stable

I like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a player and I fancied him all the way back in his Southampton days. He had to be careful to avoid becoming another player at Arsenal that went from having promise to being 28/29 with his potential not realised and not ever looking like it will be.

He had to make sure he didn’t go down that route and I reckon the move to Liverpool is ideal for him. He’s not a central midfielder, but you can play him in a three.

You can also use him in a wide role and I know people will immediately shout out Mané and Salah, but if one of them get injured then you need an Oxlade-Chamberlain to fill the void – especially with Champions League football adding to the workload.

So, if anything does happen to them, you’ve got him as a back-up to operate in that direct approach.

Despite the saga that went on over the summer transfer window, I believe Philippe Coutinho can still be trusted to perform for Liverpool. To improve his career and be at the pinnacle of football with Real Madrid or Barcelona, you can see why he wanted that the move.

I guarantee he’ll be fine and his head will be near enough okay now. In a central role at Liverpool, I believe we’ll actually see the best of Coutinho this year as it’s the only way he can get that Barcelona transfer in the future.

Liverpool excite me in attack, however it’s conceding soft goals on counter attacks that has concerned me over the last number of years and I don’t see those frailties going away.

Hopefully, they’ll be even more menacing going forward this season and that might counteract the issue. But I’m still not as comfortable with their defence as I would have been had van Dijk came in.

City are going to have a fair bit of the ball on Saturday and will try to play out from the back.  Guardiola’s men will spend a good deal of time in Liverpool’s half and that would concern me if I was a City fan.

That’s because Liverpool’s counter attack is tough to deal with and it’s what makes this contest exciting. What a game to have as the early kick-off: I can see a pulsating 2-2 draw coming our way.

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