Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool have always been “our best rivals” at Manchester City, and he’s relishing the challenge of facing them in the Premier League.
City have been the strongest side in the Premier League for years. That’s reinforced by the fact they’ve won the league five times in the past six seasons.
The one campaign in that stretch that they didn’t (2019/20), Liverpool won it. The Reds have been there or thereabouts for years during City’s dominant period, also finishing second to them twice over the last five years, once by just one point.
Games between the pair also tend to be thrilling, with only one game in the last eight between the pair not featuring four or more goals, so this weekend’s tie could provide a treat.
Guardiola believes the Reds are the closest side to his own in terms of how hard they always push them.
“I think we are old friends, know each other quite well, the time goes forward, eight or nine years, not the same players – they have TAA [Trent Alexander-Arnold] inside or outside but the idea is similar, always they’ve been our best rivals,” he said in a press conference, quoted by Manchester Evening News.
“Last season they had many injures, but top club, top team and we are looking forward to it.”
Indeed, last term, Liverpool were way off the pace, finishing fifth, 22 points behind triumphant City.
Arsenal were the side to give the serial winners their biggest challenge, leading the league for much of the season, yet Guardiola clearly feels Liverpool are the more threatening side.
That threat currently sees Liverpool sitting just a point behind City, with Arsenal level on points with the Reds. However, whether City and Liverpool’s rivalry remains intact for long remains to be seen.
Guardiola’s side are under investigation regarding Financial FairPlay regulations, and given Everton were just docked 10 points for a breach of financial sustainability rules, City could be severely hindered by punishments.
Guardiola was quick to point out, though, that his side are being investigated for different things than the Toffees were, and therefore may not be as severely punished, if at all.
“After what will be done, I will be here, the case for Everton, I don’t know what happened but it’s a completely different one. That’s why you cannot compare it,” he said.