Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted that the Citizens’ Premier League clash with leaders Liverpool this Sunday is one against the ‘best title contenders’ at Anfield – one of the toughest stadiums in Europe today to play as an away team, in his reckoning.
Champions Manchester City are six points behind Liverpool going into this matchday-12 clash.
Guardiola’s men drew goalless with the Reds at Anfield and won 2-1 in the reverse fixture at the Etihad on the way to beating Jurgen Klopp’s team to the Premier League title last season with one point difference.
But the Champions League kings are not only unbeaten in the Premier League this term, they are also unbeaten in 45 consecutive games at Anfield. And Guardiola is at alert.
“As a manager, I said last season when we won the league, they [Liverpool] are the best contender ever faced in my career to win this league,” Guardiola told reporters in his prematch press conference on Friday.
“It was the biggest achievement, or one of the biggest achievements, as a club. It remains the same. Probably right now they’re
the strongest team in the world.
“They are an exceptional team. Of course, the history is there for itself. It’s something special, I think more for the quality of the team of what they do, quality of players they
have, quality of manager they have, I believe more in that, in the team, than the scenario atmosphere at Liverpool].
Guardiola added: “Right now it’s [Anfield] one of the toughest ones [stadiums] right now in Europe.”
Guardiola also weighs his teams chances of deposing the Klopp’s army in the current title race.
“I don’t know to be honest, I think in
November it never ends. I think we have a lot of games still to play” he said.
“My experience in sport is you have to play until the end, are we going to win Champions League? Your favourite question! I don’t know
“They lost one game last season, this season they are unbeaten, so I think they won’t lose many, but the season is long.”
Asked about the ‘diving’ comment he made about Liverpool’s Sadio Mane that attracted a counter reaction from Klopp, Guardiola responds tartly.
He said: “I said in Italy, no comment.
“Ask the other managers. I know exactly what I said to my players in the last 11 years about what we have to do. I know exactly.”
Guardiola also shrugs off suggestion that the rivalry between him and Klopp could be likened to that of Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger as Manchester United and Arsenal managers respectively earlier in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Well, I will wait [to see] if my hair grows in the next 20 years because they were more than 20 years together,” he stated
“I think we cannot compare anyone with the rivals of Ferguson and Wenger. Absolute legends in their clubs, they were more than
one or two decades there.”