Guardiola talks up Liverpool title bid; Aguero will not feature
Pep Guardiola has talked up the chances for Liverpool to retain their Premier League title ahead of their trip at Manchester City on Sunday (watch live, 11:30am ET on Peacock Premium) and has confirmed that Sergio Aguero will not play.
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There are a lot of niceties flying around ahead of this game as Jurgen Klopp has said playing Man City is the ‘most difficult game in world football’ and usually Klopp and Guardiola are very complimentary of one another.
Speaking to reporters ahead of this huge clash -- if Man City win they can cut the gap to Liverpool to two points with a game in-hand -- Guardiola said that Liverpool are the ‘biggest favorites’ to win the title.
“With what happened with the pandemic, this season will be different but there are a lot of top teams. It will be important to arrive in the last five or ten games fighting for the title. Hopefully we will be there,” Guardiola said. “The important thing is to win the title. It doesn’t matter how many points you get. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less. The first time we won 100 points. Maybe we didn’t need to but we did. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the improvement we need to try and win.”
Manchester City injury news
Sergio Aguero has been missing for a few weeks with a hamstring injury and although the Argentine striker has returned to training, he will not feature against Liverpool.
“He is not ready, not yet,” Guardiola said of Aguero, City’s all-time leading goalscorer.
With Gabriel Jesus back fit (he scored on his return to action in the UEFA Champions League in midweek) he is expected to start up top as Ferran Torres will move back to the wing after his impressive displays as a false nine.
Guardiola knows what to expect
This game will be a tight, tense encounter and even though Liverpool could move eight points clear of City with a win, Guardiola doesn’t believe it will be pivotal in the title race.
“It’s an important game, but like the US Presidential Election, all the votes must count. There’s a lot of games to play. It’s always nice to play against the strongest teams possible. Last year Liverpool were stronger. They have been an exceptional team for a long time, with an exceptional manager. It is nice to face them to improve our level. We know how good we need to be to beat them.”
Without Sergio Aguero, City need Jesus, Raheem Sterling and others to step up to finish off the multitude of chances they’ve been creating.
At the back, they’ve looked better in recent weeks as Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte are forming a solid partnership together.
“When you play against teams like Liverpool and other teams you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it. We have to do it,” Guardiola said. “We’ll try to use it to our strengths as much as possible. We know each other quite well. We have played each other many times. There will be up and down moments. We need to take our chances and be clinical.”