Manchester City reassert themselves in the Premier League
Manchester City’s title defence would have bee over if they had not beaten Southampton, Pep Guardiola admitted.
City won 3-1 thanks to goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero, either side of a James Ward-Prowse own goal. By doing so, City were able to close the gap on Liverpool to seven points and improve on a run that had seen them lose three out of four games in the league.
Man City Team news
Key defensive midfielder Fernandinho shook off a thigh problem to return for Man City, but Kevin De Bruyne missed out again. Pep Guardiola made five changes from the 2-1 loss at Leicester, with Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Riyad Mahrez starting.
Southampton handed 18-year-old defender Kayne Ramsay his debut while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returned in midfield and Mohamed Elyounoussi played off Charlie Austin in attack.
Guardiola on Liverpool
Heading into Thursday’s showdown with Liverpool at Etihad Stadium the Man City boss believes their chances are precariously balanced. Guardiola described Liverpool as the ‘best team in Europe’ at the moment, and among the ‘top four in the world’.
“If we can sustain our position for as long as possible, we can arrive at the end of the season fighting for the title,” Guardiola said.
“We are not here to send messages to Liverpool. Liverpool know what they have to do and we know what we have to do. It’s first against second next Thursday. I know the distance is big – seven points – especially because they are so solid and consistent. But it’s a game at home and hopefully, the extra help from our people at the Etihad can come.”
Klopp on Manchester City
Meanwhile, the league position means nothing to Klopp. Liverpool head into Thursday’ clash with seven points clear of their rivals with the psychological advantage of being undefeated so far in the Premier League.
“I am not the smartest person in the world but I am not an idiot either,” Klopp said, according to the Guardian.
“It does not matter how many points you are ahead in December. We might be nine points in front now but we have to go to Manchester City in five days.
“Talking about how many points you are in front at this stage is a game for supporters and journalists. We cannot play that game and we don’t.”