Liverpool’s trident v Manchester City’s front three: which has the edge? | Football


Andy Hunter: Liverpool

On individual merit, or in a combined front three, there is no question that Raheem Sterling features. And how to omit Sergio Agüero, with his 173 goals in 249 Premier League games? But that is not the question. As a collective Liverpool’s forward line offers perfect balance: the brains and artistry of Roberto Firmino enabling Sadio Mané, now one of the most potent strikers in Europe, and Mohamed Salah to flourish. But what tips the decision Liverpool’s way is the greater responsibility that Mané, Firmino and Salah have to decide games in Jürgen Klopp’s system compared with the overall attacking brilliance that Pep Guardiola has constructed. Since Divock Origi’s winner against Everton last December at least one of Mané, Salah and Firmino has scored in each of Liverpool’s last 17 home league games.

Eni Aluko: Liverpool

They are two incredible attacks but I would take Liverpool’s front three in a heartbeat. What sets them apart is the way they are able to change positions: I think any one of them can play capably as a No 9, while Mané and Salah can play on either side and Firmino drops into midfield. Firmino is unselfish and still underrated, and the other two are irresistible – Salah, even below his best this season, has scored eight goals in 16 games. The way they can change positions and angles of attack makes them so hard for the opposition to deal with, and the whole personality of the Liverpool team is based on them. Agüero is one of the greatest No 9s the Premier League has seen but I think Liverpool’s attack is more complete.

Jamie Jackson: Liverpool

This is a toughie: plump for the front-three of Sterling-Agüero-Bernardo Silva who were pivotal in Manchester City’s two consecutive Premier League titles and domestic clean sweep or the Mané-Firmino‑Salah trident that helped Liverpool become European champions. Salah (with 22 goals), Mané (22) and Firmino (12) registered 56 league strikes last season for Liverpool. For Agüero (21), Sterling (17) and Silva (7), there were 45. Even though in the Champions League the count was 13 in total to the Liverpool three, 15 to City, the choice here is based on numbers, as this is what finishing is all about, scoring as many goals as possible. So it is Salah‑Firmino‑Mané for me.

Sergio Agüero , Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva have been pivotal to Manchester City’s success

Sergio Agüero , Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva have been pivotal to Manchester City’s success. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

Barney Ronay: Manchester City

Only two of City’s front three, Sterling and Agüero, are constants. But both sum up the best parts of any Guardiola project: high-level players, both already in place when he arrived, coached to become even better, to find new angles, new rhythms, new gears. Agüero might have drifted off under Pep. Instead he has hit a late-career high. Sterling has gone from scattergun left-winger to fluid and adaptable world‑class forward. There is so such to admire in Liverpool’s front three, in the way less celebrated – and indeed less expensive – players have defined the system at a Champions League-winning team. But for sustained, exhilarating quality City’s trio, with Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva in the mix, are the best in the world.

Paul Wilson: Manchester City

While both teams are blessed with enviable attacking quality, it is possible that City can claim the most reliable goal threat. Agüero is simply one of the most deadly finishers the Premier League has seen and along with Sterling he is currently ahead of any Liverpool player in the goal charts. I fully accept that all of Liverpool’s front three can be unplayable at their best, though there are also occasions when their individuality does not stand out and they can be marked out of a game. City have a good mix of clever players who are still improving in Sterling and Bernardo Silva and an established match-winner in Agüero. Plus they get to play ahead of the peerless Kevin De Bruyne.

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Louise Taylor: Liverpool

Any attacking trident capable of making a player as outrageously gifted as Philippe Coutinho look dispensable cannot be underestimated. These three are the reason Coutinho is now a Liverpool old boy and why, despite possessing an arguably inferior, certainly less creative, midfield than Guardiola’s City, Jürgen Klopp’s side persistently terrorise defences. Firmino is that most rare commodity, a workhorse of the highest calibre, while Salah and Mané know precisely how to maximise his wonderful movement. Front threes are rarely more proactive when it comes to chance creation, let alone complement each other so beautifully. Tellingly, Liverpool’s midfield are, unusually, no longer really expected to create a stream of chances; that job rests with the wing-backs and, above all, Salah, Firmino and Mané themselves.



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