Liver­pool big­gest threat to City next sea­son — Guardi­ola

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

PEP Guardi­ola ex­pects Liver­pool to chal­lenge Manch­ester City for the ti­tle next sea­son. City swept all be­fore them on their way to a record-break­ing ti­tle win this term, scor­ing more goals, gain­ing more wins and earn­ing more points than any­one be­fore them in Pre­mier League his­tory.

Guardi­ola’s side will fin­ish at least 22 points ahead of Liver­pool af­ter to­day’s fi­nal day. How­ever, Jur­gen Klopp’s men won three of the four meet­ings with the cham­pi­ons, beat­ing them twice to knock them out of the Cham­pi­ons League as well as end­ing their un­beaten run do­mes­ti­cally back in Jan­uary.

The Spaniard has of­ten spoke of his ad­mi­ra­tion for the way Klopp’s team play and fully ex­pects them to be right in the mix for the big­gest prizes again next year along­side a num­ber of other con­tenders.

“[Liver­pool] were a big con­tender and next sea­son will be, but I will not say just Liver­pool,” he said. “The way they play, the qual­ity of their peo­ple, not just in front. [Vir­gil] van Dijk helped a lot to be more con­sis­tent in the de­fen­sive de­part­ment, es­pe­cially in the box.

“The qual­ity in front, the qual­ity in the way they play. Jür­gen is a top man­ager. He’s an ex­cel­lent man­ager cre­at­ing not just of­fen­sive style, and al­ways think­ing about the spec­ta­tors, al­ways pos­i­tive go­ing there and cre­at­ing good en­vi­ron­ments in the clubs.

“I ad­mire him be­cause, for ex­am­ple, [Ilkay] Gün­do­gan was with him at Borus­sia Dort­mund and [Robert] Le­wandowski was with him, and every player speaks so well about him, as a man­ager, as a hu­man be­ing. This sea­son, OK we are 25 points in front? It is dif­fi­cult to say it was dif­fi­cult but it was, be­cause they beat us and next sea­son it will be too.

“But the same like United will be, the same like Chelsea, Ar­se­nal, Tot­ten­ham, with new man­agers, new train­ing ses­sions, new ways to play, ev­ery­body’s go­ing to move. Next sea­son will be OK, like every sea­son is. Peo­ple say: ‘No, this sea­son was dif­fer­ent.’ No, no. It was tough — it was good be­cause we were so, so good — but of course the op­po­nents will be there again.”

Be­tween them City and Liver­pool have scored more goals than any­one else — a stag­ger­ing 185 — and Guardi­ola sees a lot of his own side in Klopp’s ram­pant Reds.

“I think both teams want to at­tack, Tot­ten­ham as well. It doesn’t mat­ter what hap­pens, they want to try, want to at­tack,” he added. “But I think the way they at­tack and de­fend is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. They play more ‘here’.

“Some­times we look for more sides, they are more di­rect: the wingers, Mané, Salah, Firmino, they play more to­gether. They at­tack more in front. But I think the idea is quite sim­i­lar in terms of they want to try win the game for them­selves and they don’t wait for what will hap­pen.

“They want to try to do their game. I wish them all the best in the [Cham­pi­ons League] fi­nal.”

Pep Guardi­ola ad­mires Jur­gen Klopp

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