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Liverpool are still Manchester City’s biggest title challengers, insists Pep Guardiola

Guardiola sees biggest threat from Anfield despite Arsenal topping the table

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Friday 14 October 2022 14:12 BST
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp (The FA via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola still considers Liverpool to be Manchester City’s biggest challengers in their defence of the Premier League title, despite Jurgen Klopp's side making a troubled start to the season.

Ahead of a meeting between the two sides at Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool are 13 points adrift of the defending champions and 14 behind top-of-the-table Arsenal after winning just two of their opening eight games.

Klopp himself has suggested that any hope Liverpool had of winning their second league title during his seven years in charge has all but disappeared but Guardiola insisted that in a season interupted by a winter World Cup, a lot can still change.

"Always has been, always it is and always will be," he said. "Because I know the quality they have, they know the quality we have.

"If I was asked this question with five or ten games left, I will say I think Liverpool cannot catch the top of the league - in that case, Arsenal. But being in the position that we are, with the World Cup, everything can still happen."

Guardiola added: "The table didn't play ever play the game. Not just against Liverpool, in every single game. The game will be dictated by what happens on the beach, not because we are in front or we are behind or these kind of things."

"The opinion I have about this team, nothing changed because of the situation in the table. Not one second."

Despite Liverpool's slow start, they enjoyed victory over City in the season's traditional curtain-raiser by winning the Community Shield and beat Guardiola's side at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals in April.

Guardiola admitted to being unhappy with his side's performance in both of those most recent encounters, describing his players as "too soft".

"I had the feeling always in Anfield we have played really well. In other games, maybe in the last two games we were a little bit soft for different circumstances.

"You have to behave at a top level with and especially without the ball, and in being active in a second balls and many many things. At Anfield, winning or losing, we've always played with an incredible personality.

"You have to win duels. When they push you, you have to push. When they are there, you have to be there. The semi-finals of the FA Cup, it was a tough to recover the incredible effort we had done in Champions League.

"In the Community Shield, still we were not ready. They were in one pace higher than us and without that, against that team, you cannot compete."

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