EPL

Guardiola backs Newcastle and Liverpool in Premier League title race

By Sports Desk November 05, 2022

Pep Guardiola believes Newcastle United are contenders for the Premier League trophy this season and feels Liverpool cannot be ruled out of the running, naming six rivals for Manchester City's crown.

City are bidding for a third consecutive Premier League triumph and sit two points behind early-season leaders Arsenal ahead of this weekend's fixtures. 

With last season's runners-up Liverpool languishing in ninth place amid a dire start to the campaign, the upper reaches of the table have an unfamiliar look – with Newcastle flying high in fourth.

Eddie Howe's team have won three successive Premier League games and have conceded just 10 goals in their 13 outings in the competition this term – fewer than any other side, leading Guardiola to talk up their chances.

Asked which teams were in contention for the title, Guardiola said: "I would say Arsenal, I would say Man City, I would say Chelsea, I would say Newcastle, I would say Tottenham, I would say [Manchester] United and I would say Liverpool as well. 

"I think these teams can fight for the title."

Pushed on why he viewed Newcastle as part of that conversation, Guardiola highlighted their lack of European football and the high-pressing style instilled by Howe.

"They have incredible physicality," Guardiola said, "they don't play in Europe and when this happens, it's a big advantage when arriving at the decisive moment in terms of energy. 

"They have incredible energy for themselves. Imagine having one long week [to prepare]. A good manager, top-class players, experienced ones, quality in the middle, box-to-box transition team. 

"The way they have the intensity without the ball is so impressive, it's high, and that is a big difference. They have a good momentum and I imagine that they are going to stay there for longer."

Much of Guardiola's trophy-laden spell at City has been characterised by close title battles with Liverpool, and he has refused to write off Jurgen Klopp's side despite their poor start.

"In the past, the same manager and the same squad are able to make 17 victories in a row, 18 victories in a row, 14 victories in a row," Guardiola said.

"Many times in these last years they have done it, why can't [they] do it again? 

"Nobody knows what is going to happen after the World Cup with the transfer window, how the players come back. This is my feeling. 

"The first candidate right now is Arsenal. Why? They are top of the league and the rest are behind. The gap is close. 

"We'll see how we finish in the last two games, but I think many of these teams deserve to be there, and we'll see how they play against all of them. 

"How teams like United and Newcastle have stepped forward, and how Tottenham have done so, they can be there, [there are] no doubts."

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    Pulling the plug on Marsch's tenure was a big call by Leeds chiefs, coming in the same week they face Manchester United in back-to-back Premier League games.

    It will be only the second time in the competition's history that the same two teams have met in successive games, following Arsenal's 2-0 and 4-2 wins over Bolton Wanderers in January 2010.

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