Pep Guardiola not taking notice of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool title claim as he hails Manchester City team’s stunning form despite not having a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester City are 13 points ahead of Liverpool – with a game still in hand – but Pep Guardiola insists the Reds are not out of the Premier League title race.
Liverpool’s hopes of defending their crown appear to be in tatters, as they were beaten 3-1 at Leicester on Saturday in their sixth league defeat of the season.
Jurgen Klopp has declared his side’s title hopes finished following their latest setback, telling reporters after the Foxes loss: “I don’t think we can close the gap. We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly.”
The German’s point then seemed to be underlined by Guardiola’s City later in the day, as the leaders moved 13 points clear of their rivals with a 3-0 victory over Tottenham.
But Guardiola is taking nothing for granted and insists Liverpool have the quality to fight back and challenge his side.
He said: “From what I saw from the way they played against Leicester, we would have to lose games, but of course they can do it.
“It is the same Liverpool that I met in the last years. In the boxes they are not as clinical as before but the quality of their play is still there.”
City took full advantage of Liverpool’s slip-up earlier in the day as they ruthlessly dispatched Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.
Rodri opened the scoring from the penalty spot and the in-form Ilkay Gundogan added a second-half double.
City were again without key pair Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero – although the latter was an unused substitute – and Guardiola hailed the collective effort.
He said: “We don’t have players who can win the game by himself – we don’t have a Messi, a Cristiano, Mbappe or Neymar. We have to do it as a team.”
Gundogan is enjoying his best spell of form since he joined City in 2016, with nine league goals in nine games in 2021.
“I am more than delighted with his performance,” said Guardiola. “He won the player of the month last month and if he keeps playing this way he is going to win it again.”
The downside was the German left the field a groin injury. Guardiola confirmed he will be assessed in the coming days.
Rodri took the penalty as City’s search for a reliable taker in the absence of De Bruyne continued.
Guardiola admitted the Spaniard’s effort was not convincing and hinted that goalkeeper Ederson – who set up Gundogan’s second with a superb long ball – may be the next to get a chance.
Guardiola said: “If he is able to make this assist from 60, 70 yards, I think, ‘OK, from 12 yards it is easier’. For the quality of the shot, Ederson is the best – but penalties are completely different.
“I am so delighted for Rodri, for having the courage to take it, but the taking was not good. I have to reflect. We don’t have a real specialist to take a penalty, that is the reality.”