LONDON • English Premier League champions Manchester City may have ended last season a massive 25 points above Liverpool, but manager Pep Guardiola has said that the Reds are a "top side" his team are trying hard to keep up with.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's clash at Anfield, the Spaniard said: "Liverpool beat a lot of sides (and) not just City last season.
"Liverpool are one of the true greatest teams in England. They are a top side in the way they play. We try to be close to them in terms of many, many things."
The home side are hoping to bounce back from their midweek 1-0 Champions League loss to Napoli, and Guardiola added that the defeat was just an unexpected bad result for Liverpool.
"Napoli are an incredible team. They play so good with a good manager (Carlo Ancelotti)," he said.
"It's completely different from the Premier League. The level is higher. I give more credit to what Napoli have done, but I don't think Liverpool played bad."
City will return to the scene of their worst defeats last season when they travel to Anfield.
Liverpool are one of the true greatest teams in England. They are a top side in the way they play. We try to be close to them in terms of many, many things.
PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, rates the Reds highly.
Guardiola's men were beaten twice by Jurgen Klopp's team on Merseyside - a 4-3 defeat in the league and a 3-0 loss in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
The matches were superb entertainment for the neutral and another high-octane affair is expected tomorrow.
Both teams have made unbeaten starts to the domestic season with six victories from seven games and have 19 points each. City are top thanks to a superior goal difference, having scored six more goals.
In January, Liverpool led 4-1 before City's attempted comeback yielded two goals in the last 10 minutes, with all three of Klopp's forwards - Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino - on target.
That front-line has not quite hit the heights of last season with Salah in particular lacking sharpness, but Klopp has options from the bench.
Daniel Sturridge, whose spectacular late goal earned a point at Chelsea last week, is in form.
Liverpool also look stronger at the back than last season and have kept four clean sheets this season.
City's midfield, meanwhile, has been without their talisman Kevin de Bruyne since the opening game of the season after the Belgian suffered a knee injury.
The 27-year-old, who had the most assists in the league last term with 16, has returned to training and is in contention to play a part tomorrow.