Big Match

City won't hold back against Liverpool

Man City striker Sergio Aguero celebrating with midfielder Bernardo Silva after scoring the opening goal away to Cardiff in the Premier League last month. They won 5-0 - their biggest win this season, alongside the 6-1 home demolition of Huddersfield
Man City striker Sergio Aguero celebrating with midfielder Bernardo Silva after scoring the opening goal away to Cardiff in the Premier League last month. They won 5-0 - their biggest win this season, alongside the 6-1 home demolition of Huddersfield in August.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Pep says the league champions' instincts are to attack, despite three losses to Reds last season

LONDON • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted he will stay true to his attacking beliefs when the English champions visit Liverpool in the Premier League today despite several defeats by the Reds last season.

Guardiola saw his team beaten three times by Jurgen Klopp's men during the 2017-18 campaign, although his side did win the fourth meeting in the league at the Etihad.

The Liverpool manager also has a better record over more than 10 matches than any other manager has against Guardiola. In 14 games between them, the German has won seven (plus one on penalties).

But Guardiola being Guardiola, the Spaniard said he will not adopt a markedly more defensive style when table-toppers City face the Reds, second only on goal difference, at Anfield today.

"Why? Firstly, because it's boring," he said. "And secondly because we didn't build the team in that way. The main thing I want from my teams in these kind of games, and we did it many times in the biggest stages in the Premier League and in Europe, is to be ourselves in terms of personality.

"We have to defend but not in the approach because it's boring and we have to be ourselves. If we lose, then congrats to Jurgen, but we try to improve and go again."

The City manager has also called on Liverpool officials to ensure there are no repeats of the attack on City's team bus which preceded their 3-0 Champions League quarter-final loss at Anfield in April.

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    Manchester City and Liverpool, the most prolific scorers in the Premier League last season with 106 and 84 goals respectively, have continued their goal blitz. City have bulged the net the most times (21) after seven games while Liverpool have 15 goals.

The attack on the bus, by Liverpool supporters lining the route into Anfield, was so severe the vehicle was unable to make the return journey afterwards.

Merseyside Police failed to make an arrest following that incident but Guardiola, who was clearly angered by last season's flashpoint, hopes Liverpool and their fans will ensure the same problem does not occur this weekend.

"I think the best way to protect the bus is down to the Liverpool fans who are there," he said.

"The best way is that we should not need the police. Why should the police need to be there? For what?

"We arrive there, both sides, to play a Premier League game. Fans should be going to watch the game.

"I would like the police to go home with their families, drink a beer... that is what they should do. But that depends on the Liverpool people, not on Manchester City."

Rivalry is undoubtedly the cause of conflicts. In terms of spectacle and quality, the clash between the league leaders is perhaps the strongest the English top flight currently has to offer.

Liverpool can deliver the biggest statement of their title credentials so far with a sixth consecutive home league win over City. Equally, there is no better place for Guardiola and his players to prove his point about improving on excellence than Anfield.

"I'm not sure if it is (the Premier League's key rivalry) but that is what we have to prove," Klopp said.

"They are so strong. This team together with the club, the money they have and this manager is exceptional. It is a good match, a good combination. It makes them the biggest force at the moment together with PSG in world football.

"They are really good and we have to prove that we are as good."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'City won't hold back against Liverpool'. Print Edition | Subscribe