BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher previews the Boxing Day clash between Manchester City and Liverpool...
I was particularly impressed when Manchester City played Arsenal because I thought they really emphasised the power that’s clearly in that side.
I think the fact that Vincent Kompany is back to something like his best form is really important. The two central midfield players, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, complement each other very well and I think the kind of form Sergio Aguero was in before his injury just proved the X Factor that they have.
There are probably only four or five players in that position in the world who are capable of doing what Aguero’s doing. Aguero for me is that genuine out-and-out world class talent that you can’t replace. So it is going to be interesting to see how they cope without him.
So I think that in terms of what I see from them now, City look to me to have the best squad in the league. If they can sort out their away form I’d be very surprised if they didn’t win the league and I would expect Manuel Pellegrini to get that sorted in the not too distant future because I think they’re too good a side to have these problems. For me, City’s squad is the best in the division, they’re the team I think will win the league and I think they look extremely strong.
Suarez: the best
As for Liverpool, you wouldn’t say right now there’s a better player in world football than Luis Suarez on current form would you? You put him in the bracket with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, he’s breathing really fine air right now. The four he scored the other week against Norwich were on a different planet.
The only comparison I thought you could make with that hat-trick was the one Dennis Bergkamp scored against Leicester at Filbert Street in 1997, because each of the goals were technically brilliant, flamboyant, inventive - it was just an all-round brilliant display. And I think you look at Suarez now and he’s capable of leading that Liverpool team through periods where they need to turn to him.
Tottenham was a prime example. They go to White Hart lane without Daniel Sturridge, without Steven Gerrard. If ever there’s going to be a problem for Liverpool it's going to be there and then. Suarez wore the armband and took the game by the scruff of the neck, Tottenham couldn’t cope with him and he’s going through one of those spells at the moment where he can almost win the game on his own. And they don’t last forever; great players have certain spells in seasons or in careers where they’re unstoppable. Suarez is having one of those spells now, which is going to be a big problem for Roy Hodgson in the summer with England playing Uruguay.
It's all come together for him, and there’s nobody better in the Premier League. As we speak right now, people might make an argument that other people are as good as him. You might put Aguero in that bracket, but Suarez is on a different planet right now.
Liverpool are title contenders. People are telling me it's too soon etc, etc. Well until they go on a run where they stop winning matches, you’ve got to have them in the title race. They’re scoring plenty of goals, they’re not conceding too many and they’ve got a player on top of his game in Suarez. When he’s playing with Sturridge it’s as good a partnership as any in the league. So the only question you’d have about Liverpool would be depth, but I thought that started to be answered a little bit at Tottenham. Jordan Henderson has come into the side and gone on to another level, he’s playing really well.
John Flanagan has filled in at full-back and he’s a lot better than anybody expected, so they genuinely do seem to be buying into the Brendan Rodgers philosophy. They seem to be getting good performances from players who, in the past, haven’t shown that kind of consistency and I think while they’ve got Suarez scoring these goals and players like Gerrard and Sturridge coming back, you’ve got to put them in the title race because there are question marks over everyone else anyway.
I think it could be high scoring. Both of these teams are built to score goals and I think that’s what they’ll do. It'll be a great game to watch. If it's as good as the Arsenal game or as good as the Merseyside derby then we’ll be lucky on BT Sport, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was up there with those matches.
I’m going to go 3-2 Manchester City. Negredo with one, Toure with two for City. And two for Suarez...
Darren Fletcher is a football commentator for BT Sport. The Manchester City vs Liverpool game will be exclusively live on BT Sport 1 from 5:15pm on Thursday December 26.