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Guardiola: “Liverpool are strongest opponents I have faced”

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City
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Pep Guardiola declared Liverpool as the strongest foes he’s ever encountered, with Manchester City already five points adrift in the title battle.

After suffering a 3-2 defeat to newcomers Norwich City last weekend, Guardiola’s side now trail Liverpool by five points from their opening five games.

Despite the rather hefty deficit, though, many still expect City to launch a season-long battle with Liverpool for title honours. It comes in light of what went down last term, when the two clubs engaged in a gruelling fight that went right down to the wire.

But Guardiola knows that beating the Reds is no simple task, with the former Barcelona coach even rating them as his strongest foes.

“You have to understand what we have done in the past does not ensure you can do it tomorrow or the day after,” Guardiola told reporters in a press conference ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Watford.

“The opponents we have, I’ve said many times, are the strongest opponents I have faced in my career as a manager – Liverpool.

“These are not weak words. I said it when they were in front, I said it when we were in front; when we won and we lose.

“They have absolutely everything in terms of a positional game, counter-attack, set pieces, transitions, offensive, defensive and mentality. Anfield the stadium – many things.

“I know how difficult it was, how difficult it is and how difficult it will be.

“But that is the challenge. The same with the central defenders. We go, ‘Okay, let’s find a solution to keep the team stable and good’.”

Not helping Guardiola’s case to catch Liverpool is the defensive woes he’s got on his plate. Currently, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones are out injured.

Therefore, Fernandinho will likely continue to fill in alongside Nicolas Otamendi after impressing against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Benjamin Mendy, meanwhile, could feature after making a return to action on Wednesday. Joining him could be summer signing Joao Cancelo, who has played just nine minutes of football since arriving from Juventus.

Manchester City