Dubai: Liverpool legend Ian Rush has predicted the most open run to the English Premier League (EPL) this season.
Rush’s former club are in pole position to defend their crown as they sit at the top with 32 points after 15 matches. But hot on their heels are a bunch of teams including Leicester City, Everton, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
The 59-year-old Rush, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with a total of 346 goals in all competitions, is convinced Liverpool will not have things easy and comfortable this season. “I get a feeling that the Premier League will be down to the very last match. And of course, Liverpool will be the favourites to defend their title as they have a fine all-round unit,” Rush told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 15th Dubai International Sports Conference, late on Sunday.
“No doubt, Liverpool has a strong team but they currently have a lot of injuries and that may prove to be a defining factor in the fight for the title this season.”
Widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his generation, Rush was placed third in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop — an official Liverpool fan poll — along with being the record goalscorer for Wales until 2018 with 28 goals.
“This year’s league will be the most open one for a long time, and it will be contested by teams who are best suited to make the adjustments and show the hunger while chasing their goal,” Rush said. “For sure, one of the highlights will be that it will be the most difficult one and anything can happen along the way to any of the teams.”
Though teams like Leicester, United and Aston Villa have shown early promise as suitors to the crown this season, Rush was particularly appreciative of a resurgent Everton — Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals — under Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti. “He has done an awesome job with Everton, and everyone now knows that they are not your average team. They can surely finish in the top four and win one of the spots in the Champions League next year,” Rush said.
Rush, who was one of the television pundits in first season of the Indian Super League in 2014, also confided that Egyptian super star Mohammad Salah will stay back at Anfield until the end of his contract, despite rumours he is angling for a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain. “I doubt he will leave Liverpool. The fans love him and he is scoring goals. He will stay,” Rush said. “In addition, he has the support of a great bunch of players, and every time he scores he’s got a smile on his face. I am convinced he will remain.”