The Premier League leaders can put a huge dent in the champions’ hopes of retaining their title with a victory at Anfield in Sunday’s crunch clash
Pep Guardiola says he is not scared of any of his Premier League rivals, but expects Liverpool to be at their very best against his Manchester City side on Sunday.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has never won at Anfield in his managerial career but may never have a better chance with Liverpool losing their last two home games and struggling for form.
City, on the other hand, have won their last 13 matches in all competitions and a win would put a significant dent in the champions’ hopes of defending their title.
Guardiola was unhappy with Jurgen Klopp’s comments that City had a two-week break after a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, but praised Liverpool and expects them to believe they will claim the three points.
“I’m not scared, I couldn’t care less whether the opponents are worried or not,” he said, when asked if any side worried him.
“I’m pretty sure that they’re not because every manager and team playing against another team always believes ‘I can beat them’.
“What I am concerned about is to maintain, to improve and to improve our game. And, of course to maintain our results. If we make a bad game and the opponent is better we are going to congratulate them.
“We have to do a good game to beat them, not because we have won nine games. They are the champions, the best version, the best aggression, the best desire to win, Liverpool will be there. I don’t have any doubts.
“They will be higher than ever. We have to be prepared, be ready and do our game and be aggressive enough, with enough courage to win the game.”
With City top of the table and with games in hand on their rivals, a draw would not be a bad result as they aim for their third title in four years.
City have only won once at Anfield in the last 40 years but Guardiola insists his side go to the home of the champions aiming for all three points.
“Never, ever in my career as a manager have I prepared a game to draw a game,” he added. “Never expect a mistake from the opponents to punish them, I try to do the game to create the problems for our opponents.
“Saying that, sometimes it’s not possible, the opponent is better, or in the last 15 minutes it’s impossible to score and a draw is a good point. In advance of the beginning? No way.
“Try to win the game, that is what we are going to do. But sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes you have an idea, the opponent surprises you, is better than you, they have incredible top quality players and they beat you. Shake hands. Congratulations. Learn from that. Next one.”
Liverpool’s title defence has been beset by injury problems with defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and now Joel Matip not expected to play again this season.
City have suffered their own setbacks with Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero both ruled out of Sunday’s game but Guardiola said he cannot use it as an excuse.
“We never used ‘we don’t have these players’,” he added. “Kevin is not there, Sergio is not there, Nathan [Ake] is not there. I wish as soon as possible they come back, this is what I want.
“But what we have to do is leave them to recover, free and calm, and with the players that we have try to win games. This is the only way I knew from the beginning in my career.”