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Pep Guardiola: ‘Liverpool still our biggest challengers for Premier League title’

Pep Guardiola: ‘Liverpool still our biggest challengers for Premier League title’

Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool are still Manchester City‘s biggest challengers for the Premier League title this season ahead of Sunday’s clash at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side have endured a difficult start to the 2022-23 campaign, winning only two of their opening eight league games, and they currently sit 10th in the table, 12 points behind the Citizens in second place and 13 adrift of leaders Arsenal.

The last four seasons have seen City and Liverpool battling with each other for the Premier League title, with the Citizens coming out on top on three of those occasions, while the Reds were crowned champions for the first time in 2019-20.

However, Klopp and co are now facing an uphill battle to keep up with the reigning champions, who could move 16 points ahead of them with a victory this weekend, albeit with the Merseysiders having played a game less.

While Klopp has dismissed suggestions that Sunday’s showdown is a title decider for his side, Guardiola believes Liverpool’s current position in the table is irrelevant and he feels that the Reds “always have been and always will be” City’s biggest rivals for the top-flight crown.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates their third goal on October 2, 2022© Reuters

Speaking at a pre-match press conference on Friday, Guardiola said: “A table never plays a team – the game will be dictated by what happens on the pitch, not that we are in front or behind [in the table].

“[It’s] always difficult and has been in these years we arrive together. [Sunday will be a] tough game, we won’t discover anything else that’s special.

“I know the quality they have and they know the quality we have. If we get this question with 10 games left, I would say Liverpool cannot catch Arsenal. But with the World Cup, anything can happen.

“In the last years we fought for all the titles and were close. We were a little bit better, especially in the Premier League. But nothing changes the opinion I have of them.”

Guardiola’s side are the only remaining Premier League team who are yet to lose this season, after winning seven and drawing two of their nine matches.

Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates on October 8, 2022© Reuters

The Spaniard believes consistency has been key to their success in recent years and he has urged his team to maintain their high standards if they wish to remain ahead of their rivals.

“[Consistency] is our biggest achievement as a team. Everything can change. A few months ago Liverpool were competing for a prestigious situation in English football, four titles, they had more shots, possession, everything in the final and they lost.

“This is the same team, same manager, things can happen. It’s part of the nature of the competition. I don’t look at good moments or bad moments I analyse as a team always expecting the best of them. Nothing changes the opinion I have about them.”

Man City are unbeaten in their last five Premier League encounters against Liverpool, but the Reds have won their last two meetings against the Citizens, winning 3-2 in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley in April before securing a 3-1 victory in the Community Shield in July.

Guardiola has confirmed that three players will be missing for Sunday’s contest, but goal machine Erling Braut Haaland is fit to feature after suffering with fatigue earlier this week.

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