Pep Guardiola hails ‘incredible’ Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson
Pep Guardiola reckons trips to cauldrons like Anfield are what being in football is all about.
Liverpool have charged to the top of the Premier League table with an almost perfect start to the season and will be nine points ahead of the champions if they win this pivotal showdown.
The European champions have lost just one league game on home soil since May 2018 and have turned their famous stadium into a fortress again.
The prospect of going there would fill mere mortal managers with absolute dread, but Guardiola insists he is relishing the challenge and admits he ‘loves’ one of the most intimidating atmospheres in football.
The Spaniard said: “Anfield is such a hard place to go because they’re an exceptional team. The best team in the world right now.
“The stadium has an influence, yeah of course and the history speaks for itself. It’s something special, but I think it’s more for the quality of the team and what they do, the quality for the players and the manager that they have.
“I believe more in that. Right now it’s one of the toughest ones, right now I’d say it’s the toughest stadium in Europe to go to.”
This might be true, but Guardiola reckons tough places like Anfield have to be embraced and he said: “I love it, I like it. I didn’t like what happened to the (City) bus outside the stadium (before a Champions League game in 2018), but in the stadium, when they support the team, it’s perfect, it’s lovely.
“That’s why we’re involved in this business, to be involved in this kind of experience in these stadiums. The quality they have – if you play high they make movements in behind, they are so fast.
“When you defend deep they attack with a lot of players, with Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson, who are incredible crossers, good headers in the box.
“It’s a really complete team. They are the best contenders I’ve faced, probably the strongest team in the world.
“But as a club we need this kind of rival after winning back to back titles. That’s the kind of rival to make us make another step forward and to understand ‘ok, that is the level we have to face in the next years’. To work harder and take the right decisions.”
But even if he fails again, the former Barcelona boss is refusing to concede defeat in the title race and he added: “What is the weak points of Liverpool? They do absolutely everything well. It’s difficult to find it, but we have an idea with the way we are going to play.
“I know what is going to happen if we lose, people will say it’s over, but there will still be a lot of games to play and experience in sport is that you have to fight until the end.”