Pep Guardiola is convinced Premier League leaders Liverpool will drop points between now and the end of the season as the Manchester City boss prepares for Thursday’s huge title clash with the Reds.
Guardiola’s City side have been unable to keep pace with unbeaten Liverpool despite their own blistering start and sit in third place, seven points behind Jurgen Klopp’s outfit ahead of their crunch meeting at the Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool have dropped just six points so far this season and come into the match on a nine-match winning streak in the league, but Guardiola is confident they will make mistakes amid a heavy domestic and European schedule.
“We are there, still with a lot of games to go and I think everyone will lose points this season, even Liverpool, because there are a lot of competitions,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“They have been incredible … scoring four or five goals in every game. They are solid behind and in front.”
Guardiola feels his own team deserve credit for amassing 47 points in 20 league matches and is certain they will get opportunities to apply pressure on Liverpool after Thursday’s match.
“We have dropped off sometimes but that is normal. During the season, sometimes you forget what you have to do,” added Guardiola.
“You have to remember those things, and come back, and we have done it exceptionally well.”
Liverpool have not won the English league since 1990, two years before the creation of the Premier League, and Guardiola believes that will be significant motivation for Jurgen Klopp’s side, similar to what drove his own side to win last season’s title with a record 100 points.
“My feeling is last season it was a little bit easier to maintain that hunger because 80 percent of the players had not won anything in their lives.
“So I can feel what they feel, the Liverpool players. After 29 years not winning the title, to be there to win the Premier League, I understand it.”
Guardiola also claimed that Liverpool’s illustrious history, which includes 18 English league titles and has seen them crowned champions of Europe five times, will push Klopp’s squad to match those achievements.
“When I was a little boy, I looked at the Premier League from Catalonia, from outside, and it was always two or three teams, and Manchester City were not there,” he said.
“In the past decade our club has been incredible. Every time here in the past six or seven years, we have qualified for the Champions League.
“History is not 10 years, it’s much more, it’s longer, Anfield is Anfield, Old Trafford is Old Trafford, and the history is there and the Champions League titles are there. The players, when they put the shirt on, they know what they have to defend.
“Maybe in the next decade, the players will feel it when they come here. Our target is there now. It’s to go higher and then higher than that — and that is what I want to maintain.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Cillian Cunningham)