Paul Merson says it would not surprise him to see Liverpool drop to fourth in the Premier League table with an injury crisis.
The Reds made a canter of their first title triumph in 30 years last season, aided by their raft of superstars.
Jurgen Klopp’s immovable front three once again proved vital, while Virgil van Dijk played all 38 games in defence.
However, Liverpool – unlike nearest challengers Manchester City – have a distinct lack of strong back-up. Indeed, the Merseyside club are a man light in defence having lost Dejan Lovren.
Writing in a column for Sky Sports, Merson used Liverpool’s shaky performance against Leeds on Saturday – as well as the threat of injuries – as evidence that they could tumble down the table this season.
“You look at the goals Liverpool let in against Leeds: wow. I just think they turned up and thought they would wipe the floor with Leeds,” Merson wrote.
“I think they need to buy someone. It would not surprise me if they finished fourth this season, and I thought that before this game. It’s the same team, and they have a massive amount of players who have to play every week.
“Virgil van Dijk cannot get injured. The full-backs cannot get injured. They have not got anyone to replace the front three if they are injured.
“I keep saying it. There’s a famous fast food chain that used to sell more chips and burgers than anyone; they still did adverts. You spend to stay at the top.”
‘MAN CITY THREAT WILL EMERGE’
Merson then compared Liverpool’s situation to local rivals City’s. Pep Guardiola has already acted fast to replace Leroy Sane, with Ferran Torres arriving.
And after mistakenly failing to replace Vincent Kompany last summer, City have now signed Nathan Ake in defence.
“If Man City get injuries, they will just play: ‘We’ll score more goals than you’ anyway. What we’ll see later in the season is teams like Man City come into the fold massively, because their squad is too big,” the pundit added.
“That’s why I worry about Liverpool, there’s five or six players who must play week in, week out, otherwise the team is weakened immensely.
“This is the hardest league in the world. You have to be fit, it’s the first thing. Passing comes well below fitness!
“You could be the best passer in the world, but if you are not fit, you are not playing a game. After that, it’s about pace and passing the ball.”
Jamie Carragher has previously outlined similar concerns to Merson, highlighting the threat of a serious injury to one or more of Liverpool’s front three.
City, meanwhile, kick off their Premier League campaign against Wolves next Monday.