EPL

I've never thought I am going to lose in my career - Guardiola rallies City for Anfield showdown

By Sports Desk November 09, 2019

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will not feel like underdogs heading into Sunday's Premier League blockbuster against Liverpool.

City amassed 198 points over the course of their title triumphs in each of the past two seasons.

Their bid for three in a row has been compromised by Liverpool's unbeaten start this time around and Guardiola's men head to Anfield six points behind the leaders.

Goalkeeper Ederson joined influential defender Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri in the treatment room this week, but their manager insists he is not contemplating defeat on a ground where City last won in 2003.

"What does it meant to be an outsider? For the people in the media and the people outside [the club] saying you are outsider or not outsider; you are underdog or you are not underdog," Guardiola said.

"I never went into one game feeling like an outsider or feeling I am not going to win the game. I never felt it. Never.

"But, of course, the position is six points ahead and they are playing fantastic all season and in previous seasons. We have many problems in some departments of the players.

"I am not going to take a bus on Sunday to Anfield thinking I am going to lose the game. I never have in my career.

"Always I have to think that, if we do some special things we have planned to do, we have the chance to win."

Asked whether City would need their best performance of the season to prevail, Guardiola agreed.

"We know it. To win these kinds of games you have to be at the top level, definitely. We cannot be half-half," he said.

"The way Liverpool play they demand in 90 minutes an incredible attention to all the details.

"I am pretty sure that if there is a chance to win in Anfield it is when you believe you are going to win the game.

"The only chance we have is to play like we are and try to create chances to score goals. That is the only way I believe we can do it – not just in Anfield but in all the stadiums around the world."

City had only 51 per cent possession during the corresponding fixture last season, with Riyad Mahrez's late penalty miss meaning the game finished goalless.

That is an unusually low number for a Guardiola side, with similar statistics returning as the Premier League champions won the Community Shield on penalties in August, when Liverpool had 52.8 per cent of the ball.

"It is not adapting, it is because they are good," Guardiola said, having also flagged up a 3-0 win over Jurgen Klopp during their respective spells at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, when the former Barcelona boss was forced to adopt a direct, counter-attacking approach.

"Normally in my career at the clubs I was at, all the time we control the possession. We believe when you have the ball you can create more and concede less.

"When that happened [having less possession] it's the same [reason]. Dortmund in that period was a good team and Liverpool is a good team. In the way they play they have the quality to do that."

Related items

  • Tuchel not focused on 'very difficult' Atalanta clash just yet Tuchel not focused on 'very difficult' Atalanta clash just yet

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel expects a tough Champions League clash against Atalanta, but his focus is elsewhere for now.

    Around 5,000 fans were in attendance as PSG thrashed Le Havre 9-0 in a friendly on Sunday.

    PSG have been drawn to face Atalanta in the Champions League quarter-finals, but have a Coupe de France final against Saint-Etienne and Coupe de la Ligue decider against Lyon prior to that.

    Tuchel said he knew PSG would be tested by Atalanta in Lisbon in August, but he is focused on domestic matters.

    "It will be difficult but it's not a surprise because we will play a quarter-final. There are eight teams that want to win this competition. Every team can win their three games," the PSG coach said.

    "It will be a very difficult game [against Atalanta], it will be very tough. They have many qualities. We have seen that when they played against Juventus [on Saturday]. It is a balanced and offensive team. It is a very physical team. But now, we can't think about that.

    "Our challenge is to arrive in Lisbon with two titles. Now we are going to prepare our game against Saint-Etienne. It's the only game that is in my head right now. Then, we will think about Lyon. Then I think we will have 12 days to get ready for our game against Atalanta. We have to go step by step. The first step will be our game against Saint-Etienne."

    PSG will be without Edinson Cavani (free agent), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund) and Tanguy Kouassi (Bayern Munich) for the remainder of the Champions League after the trio departed.

    Tuchel said it made life harder for PSG, but he urged his players to push on.

    "I am sad that we have lost three key players for this competition – Tanguy, Edi and Thomas Meunier," he said.

    "That makes things harder for us. PSG need qualities and a great squad. But all the players did good [against Le Havre] and we have to keep going.

    "We all have good relationships. We are ready to continue. Today was a good start."

    Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia scored braces against Le Havre, while Kylian Mbappe, Idrissa Gueye and Arnaud Muinga were also on the scoresheet.

  • Pioli not thinking about Milan future as Rangnick's shadow looms Pioli not thinking about Milan future as Rangnick's shadow looms

    Milan head coach Stefano Pioli reiterated that he is not thinking about his future as Ralf Rangnick reportedly prepares to take over at San Siro.

    Pioli's 10-man Milan extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions with a 2-2 draw away to Napoli in Serie A action on Sunday amid mounting speculation regarding Rangnick.

    Former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick has agreed to replace Pioli – who was only appointed in October – in 2020-21, according to widespread reports.

    Pioli, however, is not paying attention to the growing rumours over his future in Milan following the stalemate at Napoli.

    "Everyone asks me that, but I am not thinking about the future," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I am at a big club, I am training players who are doing so much and the decisions will be made in August.

    "It's too important to focus now on ending the season on a high note. It's tough for coaches too with a game every three days, so I cannot be wasting energy on something that is frankly out of my control.

    "I prefer to focus on what I can control, so training these lads and preparing for the games."

    Franck Kessie's 73rd-minute penalty secured a point for Milan, who had opened the scoring through Theo Hernandez's fine strike after 20 minutes in Naples.

    Giovanni Di Lorenzo restored parity 14 minutes later and Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead on the hour-mark before Kessie converted a spot-kick.

    Milan substitute Alexis Saelemaekers was sent off with three minutes remaining following two bookings in as many minutes but the Rossoneri held on for a point.

    Pioli, whose Milan had beaten leaders Juventus and challengers Lazio heading into the contest, said: "It was tough, really tough, as after Lazio and Juventus, we've had a really difficult run of games against the best teams in the league, but we showed that we were up to the task.

    "When you get results and put in strong performances against this kind of opponent, it really boosts your confidence. We scored a great goal to take the lead, we fought back to equalise and a point is a good result."

    Coppa Italia champions Napoli remain sixth in Serie A with six matches remaining, two behind Roma and two clear of Milan.

    Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso faced former club Milan for the first time as a coach and he lamented his team's wastefulness in the final third.

    "What I do get angry with is my players for needing six or seven chances to score," Gattuso said. "It's not just the strikers, but also the wide men, the midfielders. We create so many opportunities and don't finish enough of them off. That is where we must improve.

    "If we analyse the post-COVID period of the season, we have the chances, but aren't scoring as regularly as we should. That is obvious. It's called a hot zone in the statistics, you can see Milan had very few scoring opportunities and yet they converted both of them.

    "Considering what we create, we score too few goals and concede too many. That is happening fairly regularly. If the first press doesn't work after seven or eight seconds, we have to track back and make it solid, which we don't do enough.

    "We're trying to do something a little different and we're not perfect yet, as we tend to risk waves of counter-attacks, so we end up four against four, or five against five."

  • Rodgers apologises, slams Leicester City for Bournemouth performance Rodgers apologises, slams Leicester City for Bournemouth performance

    Brendan Rodgers slammed Leicester City after a 4-1 loss to Bournemouth, labelling his side's performance as "not acceptable".

    Chasing a top-four finish in the Premier League, Leicester led through Jamie Vardy before falling apart on Sunday.

    Junior Stanislas scored a penalty, Dominic Solanke a brace and Jonny Evans an own goal as Caglar Soyuncu was sent off, and Leicester will fall to fifth in the table if Manchester United beat Southampton on Monday.

    Rodgers was furious with his side, who have won just one of seven games in all competitions since the season resumed last month.

    "It's not a happy changing room and it shouldn't be, because that is not acceptable, to deliver that level, especially when you work so well," the Leicester City manager told LCFC TV.

    "Like I say, it was the attitude. We didn't show the right spirit and that's something that we've showed consistently. But, yes, that was bitterly disappointing.

    "[The Sheffield United game on Thursday] will be a great challenge for us because we need to show a greater level of physicality and mentality. That'll be a really good test.

    "We had a great result at Bramall Lane earlier in the season and now this is a game where we've really got to show our mettle and look to get working again."

    After hosting Sheffield United, Leicester have games against Tottenham and Manchester United to finish the season.

    Rodgers apologised to the club's fans for his side's performance, lamenting the second-half showing.

    "Listen, first of all, I apologise to the supporters. I don't think I've ever had to do that in my time here," he said.

    "We've always been a tough team, mentally and physically, and tried to then play football, but to collapse like we did in the second half was bitterly disappointing."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.