Reds in the mix as title challengers: Guardiola

LONDON • It may be just the fourth round of Premier League matches this weekend, but Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has already predicted that Liverpool will be one of the title contenders this season.

Ahead of their blockbuster clash at the Etihad Stadium today, both teams are unbeaten with two wins and a draw each, and Guardiola is expecting a tough challenge from a side that thrashed Arsenal 4-0 the last time out.

"Jurgen (Klopp) is a top, top manager. Liverpool are well organised and amazing with the ball. They have a lot of quality and are so dangerous," the Spaniard said at his pre-match conference yesterday.

"It should be a great game tomorrow. Jurgen manages good teams with a lot of intensity.

"They will always be challengers. Liverpool are up there with (Manchester) United in having the most titles (in England) and in Europe.

"They haven't won the title for a long time but this season, they are one of the contenders for sure."

Guardiola also confirmed that captain Vincent Kompany will be out of the game, after the defender suffered an injury in Belgium's 9-0 win over Gibraltar in a World Cup qualifier last week.

CANNOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY

Liverpool are well organised and amazing with the ball. They have a lot of quality and are so dangerous.

PEP GUARDIOLA , City manager, admits the away side are tricky opponents.

"I'm sad. I would like him to be fit," the City manager added.

"He made a huge effort. Our physios worked a lot to take care of him so the last seven, eight, nine games of last season, he played without a problem.

"In pre-season, he played 90 minutes for three games, no problem at all.

"Now we start the period where we play every three days and unfortunately, we lost him.

"He has a little problem in his calf and I don't think he will be able to play tomorrow."

Guardiola is likely to field Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones at centre-back, after missing out on West Brom's Jonny Evans during the summer transfer window.

If he opts to revert to a three-man defence, Eliaquim Mangala or Tosin Adarabioyo, the 19-year-old, could play their first games under Guardiola.

In attack, City also did not manage to acquire Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, following the Gunners' failure to sign his replacement in Monaco's Thomas Lemar.

When asked if City will pursue Sanchez again during the January transfer window, Guardiola said: "I don't know what's going to happen but in the meantime, he's an Arsenal player.

"Of course we were interested in him, but Arsenal decided not to sell him so I wish Alexis all the best.

"Now I am not concerned. We will see in the future when the transfer window is open."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Reds in the mix as title challengers: Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe