Charlie Nicholas has said that Napoli forward Dries Mertens will cause Liverpool problems on Tuesday evening, adding that Tottenham’s trip to Olympiacos on Wednesday an “awkward one” for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Last season’s Champions League finalists both get their European campaigns underway this week looking to build on the success of last year, with Liverpool playing in Naples and Spurs making the long trip to Greece.
Writing in a column for Sky Sports, Nicholas said that he expects Liverpool to lose 2-1 to Carlo Ancelotti’s side and added that he believes Spurs will claim a 1-1 draw at Olympiacos.
“This will be a good test for the Champions League holders,” the pundit said. “We saw a vulnerable side to their defence at the weekend again, conceding after just seven minutes against Newcastle. They have walked away comfortably and won, but that is not the point.
“The difference Roberto Firmino makes is unbelievable. He doesn’t get the goals that Mohamed Salah gets or has the pace that Sadio Mane does but he has skill and cunning.
“He is a real team player and is my favourite out of the three, my favourite to watch, although he may be easier to mark than the other two.
“Liverpool have not improved in midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a fringe player. We know they are a good side but those three have to be on their game to win matches. Napoli are all-action and very strong at home, but not convincing away from home.
“Dries Mertens just rocks up and does the job. He gets big goals and I expect him to grab another through the week.”
Speaking about Spurs, Nicholas said: “This is an awkward one. Tottenham were very impressive in the first half against Crystal Palace, which allowed them to ease down to second gear in the second half.
“They kept hold of Christian Eriksen and so things have calmed down a bit. He started against Palace, so is that why it has calmed down? Mauricio Pochettino has changed his team too much and that is why they look vulnerable at the back.
“I would imagine Tottenham would try to control possession, but this is an awkward trip and these are dangerous teams to travel to. Tottenham are still unpredictable.”
Ahead of Liverpool’s match with Napoli, Jurgen Klopp has outlined how he expects his side to claim a victory at the San Paolo stadium.
Get the latest personalised Reds products on our new TEAMtalk Liverpool shop!