Pep Guardiola Calls Liverpool ‘One of the Best Teams I Have Ever Seen’ | Bleacher Report
Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Pep Guardiola is in no doubt about the scale of the challenge facing Manchester City in this season’s Premier League title race. City trail leaders Liverpool by two points after putting eight goals past Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but Guardiola doesn’t think the goal rush was a statement.
Instead, he thinks the Reds, who play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, are a team without equal in his career:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
Pep has no doubts about his Man City but says assessment should be based on how good @LFC are: “I see my players in training every day. The team ahead of us is one of the best teams I have ever seen in my career. They have lost one game in 18 months.”
City have won the title the last two seasons, outlasting Liverpool by a single point in the 2018/19 campaign. Jurgen Klopp’s team amassed 97 points, the most ever for a runner-up.
A free-scoring attack has been the foundation of the Citizens’ success, and there is no sign of the goals drying up after the way Guardiola’s men took the Hornets apart. David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne found the net, while Bernardo Silva added a hat-trick.
The ominous sign for Liverpool and the rest of City’s rivals is the way they scored for fun while former Reds winger Raheem Sterling stayed on the bench. Sterling has been the player who has benefited from City’s recent dominance the most.
He’s seized the opportunity provided by playing in a team capable of creating so many chances to improve his quality as a finisher and become arguably the most effective wide forward on the continent:
Sky Bet @SkyBet
Just take a moment to appreciate Raheem Sterling’s stats since 2017/18…
88 games played
54 goals scored
114 shots on target
153 fouls suffered
137 key passes
PFA Young Player of the Year
FWA Footballer of the year
Messi/Ronaldo like numbers. 🤯🔥 https://t.co/Knovg8LBEA
City getting goals in bunches without involving in-form Sterling only underlined the awesome strength in depth in attacking areas of Guardiola’s squad. Mahrez isn’t a regular starter, but the Algeria international is still a world-class talent who delivers when he’s given a chance.
The same is true of striker Gabriel Jesus, who subbed for Aguero and scored during City’s 3-0 win away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League. No team has more match-winners in midfield where De Bruyne, Silva and Silva are ably supported by Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden.
City’s options in forward areas exceed even Liverpool’s prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Even so, it has appeared to be advantage Liverpool in the title race after Guardiola‘s squad has been decimated by injuries at the heart of defence. Aymeric Laporte is out until 2020, while fellow centre-back John Stones faces as many as five weeks on the shelf with a muscle problem.
Liverpool emerging as City’s strongest challenger has stoked up a burgeoning rivalry. There was tension off the pitch this week when the Reds paid a settlement worth £1 million after City complained “their scouting system had been hacked into,” per Martyn Ziegler and Matt Dickinson of The Times.
Guardiola deflected the issues when asked about the story:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
Pep on the Times report this morning re Liverpool/scouting: “2013. I was away. I read it. I don’t know what happened. The club has to speak for itself. The club will decide whether to make a statement or not.”
As for matters between the two on the pitch, injuries and Liverpool’s lead could explain Guardiola’s motivation for talking up Liverpool as a way of deflecting any negativity if City do fail to make it a hat-trick of titles this season.
In the meantime, the two rivals who are far ahead of the rest appear set for another close-fought scrap for the league crown.