Guardiola wary of Everton threat

LONDON • The Premier League title credentials of Pep Guardiola's new-look Manchester City face an early-season examination today when Ronald Koeman's ambitious Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.

With around £150 million (S$263.7 million) worth of new players on show, City made an assured start to the campaign by winning 2-0 at promoted Brighton and Hove Albion on Aug 12.

But Everton are also stronger, taking their spending past £130 million last week with a club-record £45 million move for Gylfi Sigurdsson. They trounced City 4-0 when the teams last met in January.

"They are a top squad and they have important players," said Guardiola, the City manager. "They lost an important player, (Romelu) Lukaku, but they have a good group of players - midfield players and strikers. They are one of the best teams in the Premier League.

"I expect they will play the same way and attack our defence. They are dangerous on the counter-attack."

Guardiola has used a three-man defence in pre-season and at Brighton, captain Vincent Kompany brought much-needed authority at the back while new boys Kyle Walker and Danilo supplied thrust on the flanks.

While Guardiola prioritised signing full-backs over the close season, his former Barcelona team-mate Koeman has apparently been on a mission to cram as many No. 10s into his squad as possible.

Sigurdsson and other new signings Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney all tend to play in central attacking roles and Ross Barkley also remains on Everton's books.

But Koeman points out that it is a pleasant headache for a manager to have.

"You need competition in your team," said the Dutchman. "It is not about 11 players."

For his part, Sigurdsson says he will wear his hefty price tag lightly. "It's not up to me how much clubs pay for me," said the 27-year-old Iceland international.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'Guardiola wary of Everton threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe