Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in July 2016 with the aim of "winning games to make the fans happy and proud".

Six and a half years on from his appointment, it is fair to say the Catalan has achieved what he set out to do in that regard.

While a lack of Champions League success continues to blight his CV, Guardiola has otherwise conquered English football.

With four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and one FA Cup, Guardiola has won at least five major trophies more than any other City manager.

After signing a new deal on Wednesday that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2024-25 campaign, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind Pep's reign.

DOMESTIC DOMINANCE

Guardiola has managed 374 matches as City manager, winning 271 of those, drawing 49 and losing 54 for a win rate of 72.5 per cent.

Most of those games (242) have come in the Premier League, followed by the Champions League (70, inc. qualifying), FA Cup (30), EFL Cup (28) and Community Shield (4).

The 605 Premier League goals scored by City under Guardiola averages out at 2.5 per game, with less than one a game conceded over the same period.

It is in the EFL Cup that Guardiola boasts his highest win percentage (75 per cent), having won 21 of the 28 matches he has managed in that competition, losing just twice.

 

PEP OUTDOING FERGIE

Unsurprisingly given City have won the title in four of his six seasons, no manager – not even Manchester United great Alex Ferguson – can better Guardiola's win rate.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has won 74 per cent of his games in the competition, with Ferguson, who managed 810 matches, next best on 65.2 per cent.

Among those to have taken charge of at least 20 games, Antonio Conte (65.7 per cent), Jurgen Klopp (63.2) and ex-City boss Roberto Mancini (61.7) make up the top five.

With four English top-flight titles, Guardiola needs one more to overtake Kenny Dalglish, though he has a long way to go to catch up with Ferguson, who won 13-such crowns.


PREM'S TOP DOGS

Guardiola is one of 119 managers to have taken charge of at least 50 Premier League matches, and he leads the way in a number of the top metrics.

He boasts the most points per game on average (2.4), the highest win percentage (74), most goals per game (2.5) and the fewest goals conceded (0.8).

That is reflected in an accumulated Premier League table across his six and a half seasons at the helm, which has City on 568 points – 38 more than next-best Liverpool.

Chelsea and their various managers have accrued the next highest number of points since the start of the 2016-17 season with 463, followed by Tottenham on 455.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NEXT?

For all of Guardiola's undoubted success on the domestic stage, though, he has been unable to add to the two Champions League trophies lifted while managing Barcelona.

Guardiola has won 44 of his 68 games in the competition for a win rate of 65 per cent, a return only Hansi Flick can better (89 per cent) from his short spell at Bayern.

However, his side have repeatedly fallen short on the continent, with their run to the final in the 2020-21 season – when defeated by Chelsea – the best they have managed.

"I still have the feeling there is more we can achieve together and that is why I want to stay and continue fighting for trophies," Guardiola said upon signing his new contract.

On course for yet another Premier League triumph, albeit with a five-point gap to make up on Arsenal, conquering Europe again is now the undoubted main aim for Guardiola.

Pep Guardiola sees no reason why Manchester City should not be confident ahead of the new season, despite their Community Shield defeat to Liverpool.

City lost 3-1 to Jurgen Klopp's side at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, suffering defeat in the season's traditional curtain-raiser for the second year running.

Guardiola's team had more of the ball (57.3 per cent), more shots on target (eight to four) and registered a higher expected goals total (2.27 to 2.03), but Liverpool seemed the sharper of the two sides as they claimed the trophy for the first time under Klopp.

It was just the second Community Shield clash between the clubs, with the head-to-head record now tied at 1-1 after City's penalty shoot-out victory at Wembley Stadium in 2019.

Seven of the past eight Community Shield matches between the league champions and FA Cup holders have now been won by the cup winners, with the exception being City's 2-0 win over Chelsea in 2018.

While it was a day to forget for City – and specifically new signing Erling Haaland, who cut a frustrated figure throughout and hit the crossbar from six yards out in second-half stoppage time – Guardiola has no doubts about the campaign ahead.

"There is no reason not to be confident," Guardiola told a news conference. "What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League, but the cups, in Europe, many things.

"I don't know what is going to happen at the end of the season, but I am pretty sure I know these guys and they haven't given up for one second.

"We lost a final, we prefer to win. A lot of respect, credit to the opponent. The standard is what it is, we reach this standard as quickly as possible and maintain it, maintain it as always."

Asked how close he felt his side were to peak performance, despite having played only two pre-season friendlies prior to facing Liverpool, Guardiola replied: "Close. We did very good things.

"I don't feel, because we know each other so well, that we are far, far away. But at the end, the games against West Ham and, after, Bournemouth will dictate our level, how we are doing, and in the process, we will correct, we will improve; [if we] have to do it that way or the other way, it is going to happen."

While Haaland toiled, Julian Alvarez impressed from the City bench, scoring their equaliser before Mohamed Salah's penalty and Darwin Nunez's header settled the contest in Liverpool's favour.

Yet City's other new arrival, Kalvin Phillips, was not brought on for a competitive debut.

Guardiola was not concerned that being left out would negatively impact the England midfielder's confidence, however.

He said: "No, [Phillips] has confidence. He can play, he is ready to play. He arrived just two weeks ago.

"In that position, we have Rodri, Bernardo [Silva], [Ilkay] Gundogan. Step by step, he will get it. He is an incredible person. There are many games, he is going to help."

Manchester City's Julian Alvarez hopes to offer Pep Guardiola's side "different solutions" this season, having marked his competitive debut with a goal.

The forward netted a second-half equaliser for City in the Community Shield against Liverpool at the King Power Stadium, cancelling out Trent Alexander-Arnold's opener, though Jurgen Klopp's side would go on to win 3-1 thanks to Mohamed Salah's penalty and Darwin Nunez's late header.

Alvarez's goal saw him catch the eye in what was otherwise a disappointing attacking display from City.

The 22-year-old had just two touches inside the box during his 32-minute spell off the bench, but was a livewire down the right-hand side after replacing Riyad Mahrez, and his goal saw him become the third Argentine to score in the Community Shield, after former City stars Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.

Signed for a reported £14million from River Plate in January, then loaned back to the South American giants until the end of last season, Alvarez will likely be a supporting member of the City cast in the year ahead due to competition from Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Erling Haaland, though the latter endured a domestic bow to forget in Leicester.

Premier League rule changes now mean that managers can utilise five substitutes off the bench, however, which should see Alvarez earn more opportunities, and he has vowed to use his versatility to offer alternative options for Guardiola.

"Obviously, I'm very happy for scoring my first goal with City, but that stays aside because it wasn't the result we wanted to start the season winning the trophy," he told City TV.

"Always I try to give my best in training, I've shown I can play different positions at my clubs and with the national team.

"I can offer alternatives to the team with this versatility, I can offer different solutions and I want to give my best to help the team."

City's attention is now cast towards the start of their Premier League title defence, which begins away to West Ham on August 7, and Alvarez is confident it will be another successful campaign despite Saturday's defeat to their rivals.

"It's tough, obviously we didn’t want to start this way. We don't like to lose. We need to keep working," he added.

"It's going to be a good season to fight for all the trophies and we need to carry on working this way.

"Liverpool have shown in the last years how good they are. They're a great team with great players. So [are] City.

"It was a good test to start the season, we played well and played at a good level but we need to keep working to get the results."

Virgil van Dijk told Darwin Nunez to get his "head down, work and be important" for Liverpool after the striker's decisive cameo performance against Manchester City.

Nunez came on with just under an hour played in Saturday's Community Shield clash between the Premier League champions and the FA Cup winners.

He made a telling impact, winning a penalty when his header struck the arm of Ruben Dias to enable Liverpool to restore their lead through Mohamed Salah after Julian Alvarez had cancelled out Trent Alexander-Arnold's opener.

Nunez, signed from Benfica for a fee of £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons, capped off a 3-1 triumph for Jurgen Klopp's side with a header late in stoppage time.

The 23-year-old had been the target of criticism and social media jibes following some sloppy performances early in pre-season, though Nunez scored four in a 5-0 rout of RB Leipzig last week and slotted in seamlessly to Liverpool's attack at the King Power Stadium.

Van Dijk shrugged off the criticism of his new team-mate, who the defender explained is already an important player in Liverpool's squad following the departure of club great Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.

"He's important. He's difficult to play against and hopefully he can show it for the rest of the season," Van Dijk told reporters.

"We all help him in some ways and make sure that he's comfortable, he's calm and just work, and don't focus on what the outside world has to say because everyone has to say something these days. So head down, work and be important for the club.

"I don't speak Spanish, so I'm not saying anything to him at the moment, but we have plenty of Spanish speakers in the team and I know for a fact that they help him, and I don't see anything that bothers him at the moment.

"But we will see, everyone has something to say because there are so platforms to do it. So it can hit you but it shouldn't. Just enjoy your game, enjoy the group, enjoy the club, because we are very blessed to be able to play for Liverpool."

It was a sentiment echoed by midfielder Fabinho, who himself took time to settle into the Premier League following a move from Monaco in 2018.

He said: "We saw he's getting better from the first game of the pre-season. He did really well for the team.

"We've had three weeks of training, so now he knows the way we play a little bit. We are learning the way he plays a little bit more.

"We know he is fast, he's strong and he's a proper number nine. He will be in the box, it looks like the ball follows him, he will always get the chance to score.

"So yeah, I think it's really important for him to score in the first official game in a Liverpool shirt. He will be very important for us this season."

Liverpool's victory marked their first Community Shield triumph under Klopp, at the third time of asking.

Including occasions when the trophy was shared, only Manchester United (21) have won the trophy more times than the Reds (16), whose performance delivered a message to rivals City ahead of the new campaign.

Van Dijk, though, knows using the Community Shield display to predict how Liverpool's season could go would be foolish.

"We can't look to the future," the centre-back added. "It's a boring answer but we knew that, for example, two years ago we had so many injuries, those are part of football as well.

"We are focussing game by game. Hopefully it will be a successful season, better than last season. We are excited to crack on, and we will see what the year brings."

Jurgen Klopp was hugely impressed with his back-up brigade after Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-1 in the Community Shield, as he hit out at the nature of judging players in pre-season.

Liverpool triumphed in a fiercely contested clash with the Premier League champions at the King Power Stadium on Saturday thanks to goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez.

The latter impressed with a 30-minute cameo from the bench, marking his debut in English football in style and outshining City's big-money striker – Erling Haaland – in the process.

Nunez stooped low to head in a left-wing cross in stoppage time to put Liverpool two goals ahead, shortly before Haaland inexplicably hit the crossbar at the other end after Adrian had kept out Phil Foden's shot.

Signed from Benfica after a brilliant 2021-22 campaign, both in Portugal's top tier and the Champions League, Nunez had some difficult opening matches for Liverpool at the start of pre-season, but he scored four in a 5-0 rout of RB Leipzig last week.

His impact from the bench on Saturday was telling, with the 23-year-old having four goal attempts, two of which were on target, and it was his header into the upright arm of Ruben Dias that handed Liverpool a penalty after Julian Alvarez had drawn City level.

"It was good, was really good," Klopp said of Nunez's debut in his post-match news conference.

"It's clear that he will get better with time. Everybody gets judged on first sight. It's not helpful for anybody, but it happens all the time.

"Both teams were today not 100 per cent at their physical usual situation. But in the first few [pre-season] games we were not even close to the level today. [In those games] everybody judges his first touches and this kind of thing and it's a joke, but we have to live with it. We are patient, we knew that he can do good stuff.

"We all know – [strikers are] a special species – and everyone knows about the positives, goal involvements. I think Darwin, even without scoring the third one, [would have scored] because of the penalty was from his header, and before that Ederson reacted brilliantly [to make a save when one-on-one with the Uruguayan].

"The goal was the icing on the cake. For him, you could see his face, how happy the boys are for him. It's a really good sign after a short period of time."

Nunez became the fourth player to score on his competitive debut for Liverpool under Klopp, after Sadio Mane, Salah and Virgil van Dijk, but the striker was not the only substitute to impress Liverpool's manager, who won the Community Shield for the first time at the third time of asking.

"Today I liked the impact, in a high-level game. As good as we were, the impact from the bench was really exceptional. A very good sign," said Klopp, who brought on Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, James Milner, Harvey Elliott and debutant Fabio Carvalho as well as Nunez.

"A good watch, a good game. Both teams used what was available today, that's what we could have expected."

Asked by Stats Perform if the nature in which Liverpool regained control in the latter stages boded well for the fitness of his side ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, Klopp said: "It was for me really nice. It's the most difficult opponent you can get, they do not get any better.

"Their squad, the boys he could bring on, it's very experienced, proven quality. We have space to improve the quality from the bench. Harvey's impact. Millie [Milner], I'm not sure what level he can reach this year to be honest! Curtis, and Naby – wow – just so good."

Liverpool face Strasbourg in a friendly on Sunday at Anfield, before turning their attention to taking on promoted Fulham in their first game of the Premier League season.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has insisted he has no concerns about Erling Haaland after he was unable to strike a debut goal against Liverpool.

The Premier League champions fell to a 3-1 defeat against Jurgen Klopp's side at the King Power Stadium, with the Norwegian seeing both an effort disallowed and hitting the frame of the goal.

Plenty of expectation has been placed upon Haaland following his big-money move to English football and, with Liverpool's own expensive recruit Darwin Nunez starting on the bench, the stage was set for the forward to make an impact.

City's number nine was unable to do so, while Nunez came off the bench to win a penalty and score Liverpool's third, but Guardiola remained confident his new recruit will be firing in goals throughout the course of the campaign.

"He had chances, two or three in the first half, one at the end, fought a lot, made the movements," he told a news conference.

"Good for him to see the reality, a new country, new league. He was there. Today he didn't score, other days he will score.

"No [worries about the chances that he missed]. He has the quality. He has an incredible sense. We had just two weeks, the team was good in the States. I am really comfortable. The season starts now."

Haaland's big moment came in the latter stages of the match, where the former Borussia Dortmund man struck the crossbar from point-blank range but, while it will likely lead to jibes from rival fans, Guardiola downplayed the incident.

"He is strong, he missed it, another time he would put it in the net. What is the problem? It happened, it is football," he added.

"There was another goal disallowed because the ball was out of the line and he scored. He would do it. It's good to understand sometimes, he needs that situation to understand okay, this is what to do. It's good.

"I am not concerned or worried about that. He would be happy if we won, he scored goals, everyone would be, but the reality is it is a long 11 months.

"We have two, three months ahead of us before the World Cup, so intense, and then after that this season is every three days, four days, and Erling is going to score, I am sure of it."

Trent Alexander-Arnold suggested Darwin Nunez had enjoyed one of the strongest Liverpool debuts he has seen after the new Reds striker starred in a Community Shield success over Manchester City.

Nunez, the flagship purchase this close-season at Anfield, was forced to wait for his bow after he was named on the bench for Saturday's match at the King Power Stadium.

But after Alexander-Arnold had handed the Reds the lead with a deflected first-half effort, the forward appeared for an eventful final half-hour that saw him both win a penalty and net a goal in a lively performance.

Asked how good his new team-mate's performance was, the England right-back hailed Nunez's bow as one of the best at the club in recent memory.

"It's got to be up there," Alexander-Arnold told ITV Sport. "He won the pen, he scored the goal. He looks lively, very lively.

"He's someone who has been brought in to score goals, and he proved he could do that today. He's come in, got his head down, worked hard so far [and] come on today with a point to prove."

Alexander-Arnold was delighted he could similarly contribute to winning the Community Shield, the lone domestic honour previously missing from the club's cabinet under Jurgen Klopp.

"It was on target, that's all I'll say," he said of his goal. "I just tried to make a good connection, steer it towards goal. I'm always happy to contribute towards goals. It was an important one for us.

"This one means a lot, to be honest. I think it's the third time we've been here, and we haven't been able to win it so far. That was our motivation going into it.

"Our season started today. A lot of teams start next week, but ours started today, so it was important for us to get off on the right foot."

Double cup glory last term helped Liverpool go within a whisker of a quadruple, before City edged them on the final day of the Premier League season and they then fell to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

"Who knows what will happen over the course of the season?" added Alexander-Arnold on Saturday.

"Our aim is to be as fit as possible to push them from the very first kick. This was the perfect start, and we hope to win trophies along the way."

Jurgen Klopp declared his Liverpool side are ready for the new season after their 3-1 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's opener was cancelled out by City debutant Julian Alvarez in the second half, but the Reds responded as Mohamed Salah converted a penalty before Darwin Nunez marked his debut with a goal.

Coming off the bench, Nunez made a key difference to Liverpool as they fought to prevent the tie from going to a penalty shoot-out. He showed that the early signs are promising in the club's bid to ease the loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.

The win means Klopp has won every trophy available to him in English football, having previously fallen short in the Community Shield, and he declared his side were primed to go again after a gruelling campaign last term.

"I liked the game a lot, but most of the time City games against us are cool to watch. We don't always win, but they are entertaining," Klopp told ITV.

"I was happy with our start of the game, but every sub made a difference. The boys are ready and it is good.

"We saw Darwin Nunez in dangerous situations. He used the spaces and finished well, too."

Liverpool played every fixture possible last season as they won the League Cup and FA Cup, while losing in the Champions League final to Real Madrid in Paris.

The addition of Nunez should improve Liverpool's attack, as they failed to score in any of their three finals last term, aside from in penalty shoot-outs.

Andy Robertson believes the former Benfica player, who has faced flak from some critics early in his Reds career, will be a valuable addition to the squad.

"Not bad, after all that's been said about him the last couple of weeks. We need to give him time, but he's shown so much quality already," said left-back Robertson.

"We've got so much quality in our squad and he's added to it, he'll be a good addition."

Darwin Nunez capped a memorable debut with a clinching header as Liverpool earned a 3-1 victory against Manchester City in the Community Shield.

The Uruguay international nodded home from close range deep into injury time to confirm the first silverware of the season heads to Merseyside after an energetic, enthralling encounter at Leicester's King Power Stadium.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's first-half strike had been cancelled out by Julian Alvarez with 20 minutes to go, before Mohamed Salah put the Reds back on top from the penalty spot.

It was then Nunez whose goal made sure Jurgen Klopp completed his career clean sweep of elite English domestic honours.

The new man was forced to wait for his debut, however, after being initially named on the bench, and Liverpool did not look to need him thanks to an energetic start out of the gates.

Alexander-Arnold unfurled a fabulous strike from the edge of the box in off the left post in the 21st minute, while miscued chances for City's star buy Erling Haaland left Pep Guardiola with a frustrating first half on his hands.

The introduction of Argentina star Alvarez from the bench proved an inspired move by Spaniard Guardiola, with the former River Plate man flicking home after Phil Foden's saved effort to level matters.

But when Ruben Dias was flagged for a handball from Nunez's header with full-time fast approaching, Salah was able to put the Reds back on top with his low spot-kick.

Nunez's big moment in stoppage time confirmed the result, while Haaland hit the crossbar in the dying moments to sum up his tough day at the office.

Erling Haaland was named in Manchester City's starting line-up for the Community Shield clash with rivals Liverpool, who had Darwin Nunez on the bench.

Haaland joined City from Borussia Dortmund last month in what has been a busy transfer window for the Premier League champions.

The Norway striker scored his first goal for the club in a pre-season friendly win over Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola has selected him to start in the traditional curtain-raiser for the English season, which is being played at Leicester City's King Power Stadium this year.

Haaland will play down the middle, flanked by Jack Grealish and former Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.

Nathan Ake - linked with a move away from City in recent weeks - partners captain Ruben Dias at the back, with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Rodri selected in midfield. Kalvin Phillips and Julian Alvarez, City's other new signings, had to settle for a place on the bench.

Nunez has been the big-money arrival at Liverpool this transfer window, but the former Benfica star was named among Jurgen Klopp's substitutes.

With goalkeeper Alisson injured, Adrian was handed a rare start for the FA Cup winners, who have Roberto Firmino leading an attacking three that also includes Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz.

Saturday's encounter marks just the second Community Shield game between City and Liverpool, with Guardiola's side winning on penalties in 2019.

It is the first time the Community Shield has been held away from Wembley since 2012, when City beat Chelsea 3-2 at Villa Park.

This weekend's Community Shield sees the new English domestic season begin as the last one ended, with Manchester City and Liverpool doing battle.

City pipped Liverpool to the Premier League title, but the Reds got the better of Pep Guardiola's men in their FA Cup semi-final, going on to beat Chelsea in the decider and book their place in Saturday's curtain-raiser.

These two are expected to lead the way once again in 2022-23, yet plenty has changed in their ranks since they were last in action – particularly in attack.

At the Etihad Stadium, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling have departed to be replaced by Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.

With Haaland's arrival perhaps the most notable in the Premier League during this close-season, Liverpool responded with their own big-money big man up front; Darwin Nunez was signed from Benfica to be flanked by the returning Mohamed Salah, but Sadio Mane is gone.

After several years of success at the forefront of English football, Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp appear set to reshape their teams around their latest buys.

Both managers lined up last season primarily without a traditional number nine.

Jesus may return to that role after joining Arsenal, but City's sole centre-forward often played from the right in 2021-22, taking only 16.0 per cent of his Premier League touches in the penalty area.

Haaland, by contrast, took 20.7 per cent of his Bundesliga touches in the box for Borussia Dortmund last term, which explains how a staggering 96.3 per cent of his shots were taken from inside the area – by far a higher share than that of any forward who played for City or Liverpool.

That mark comfortably tops Nunez's (74.1 per cent of shots in the box), too, but the 23-year-old also brings something new to a Reds outfit who have often deployed a false nine through the middle.

Roberto Firmino was that man for a long time and took only 9.5 per cent of his touches in the area last season. Nunez took a mammoth 24.5 per cent of his Primeira Liga touches within 18 yards of goal.

Staying in such positions so regularly helped to boost the shot conversion rates of Haaland (27.5 per cent) and Nunez (30.6 per cent), although both still impressively outperformed their expected goals (xG) totals; Haaland scored 22 from an xG of 18.5, while Nunez netted 26 from an xG of 18.4.

In fact, the numbers suggest Divock Origi was the only player across the best two squads in the Premier League who performed in a manner akin to that which might now be expected of the superstar duo.

Origi, who has left Liverpool for Milan, took 21.7 per cent of his touches in the box, and his shoot-on-sight policy saw an attempt at goal for every 6.9 touches (9.3 for Haaland, 9.8 for Nunez).

Yet this perhaps spoke as much to Origi's role as Liverpool's specialist rescue act as anything else; he made only seven appearances, all from the bench for a combined 126 minutes, yet scored three goals, converting 30.0 per cent of his shots.

Over the course of his time under Klopp, when he was occasionally asked to play wide, Origi's statistics were more in line with those of his former team-mates. Only 13.3 per cent of his touches came in the box, just 68.9 per cent of his shots were from within the same range, and those attempts arrived every 16.4 touches on average.

Maybe Klopp will also ask Nunez to push wide and stretch the play, maintaining the fluid forward line that saw winger Mane increasingly used through the centre in big games.

That should not necessarily hamper Nunez's hopes of scoring regularly; Salah could afford to marginally underperform his xG (23.8) and still strike 23 times in the league last season, playing from the right but taking 19.6 per cent of his touches in the box and needing only 12.4 on average to attempt a shot.

Prior to last season, Guardiola had at least been able to incorporate at City the sort of penalty-box striker he has signed in Haaland.

Sergio Aguero averaged a shot every 10.0 touches under Pep, with 17.8 per cent of his touches across five seasons coming inside the area.

And Haaland brings more to his game, too, if only due to his sheer size. The 1.94-metre ex-Dortmund man won 57.6 per cent of his aerial duels in 2021-22 – no City or Liverpool forward won more than half, with Nunez also lagging on 40.6 per cent.

But perhaps the former Guardiola player whose profile most resembles Haaland's is Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and his Barcelona career was not Pep's biggest success story.

Just as City will have to adapt to Haaland – perhaps by allowing him to compete aerially from a few of their trademark cutback crosses – so will he to them. The forward completed just 71.3 per cent of his passes in the league last season; that lax level of link-up is unlikely to wash in a Guardiola side, as Jesus (84.8 per cent), Sterling (85.4 per cent) and Riyad Mahrez (90.0 per cent) will attest.

Nunez completed 67.1 per cent of his league passes, which would similarly rank him last among Liverpool forwards, but he should at least be familiar with the high-pressing approach enforced by Klopp.

Liverpool led the Premier League in high turnovers (443 or 11.7 per game), average starting position (45.5m upfield) and opposition passes per defensive action (9.9 PPDA), while Benfica (9.0 high turnovers per game, 44.4m starting position and 8.7 PPDA) unsurprisingly ranked in the Primeira Liga's top three in each category.

So, there is plenty to be excited about both in Manchester and in Liverpool and yet great scope for potential teething problems.

The forthcoming title tussle could well be decided by how successfully Haaland and Nunez fit into these ruthless, relentless winning machines, and Saturday provides an early opportunity to assess that process.

Erling Haaland is fit enough to play a part in Manchester City's Community Shield clash with Liverpool on Saturday, manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

The 22-year-old has played just 40 minutes of pre-season action since joining City from Borussia Dortmund earlier this transfer window.

Guardiola has been carefully managing Haaland's fitness due to the prolific striker carrying some minor niggles, but he is ready to use him against Liverpool this weekend.

"He's ready to play on Saturday, and the first impression as a guy is really good, a funny guy. He's settled really well with the team. That is important," Guardiola said.

"Apparently people think it's not one of the most important things, but it is... the good vibes in the locker room is more important than any advice or any other thing you can say.

"We try to settle good with the family, try to get to know each other in training, we can see what we want to do, what we did in previous seasons. The quality will do the rest."

Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund – only Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) scored more times among players from Europe's top five leagues across that period.

 

The Norway international required just 12 minutes to get off the mark in his City debut with the winner against Bayern Munich last week, and Guardiola is happy with the former Salzburg striker's condition.

"He feels good. When I spoke with him over the last days, he feels a little bit [of niggles], but he can train and move. At the end of August, he will be better than now," Guardiola said.

"Now we have one game a week, with more training. After that, we start the crazy schedule – three days, four days.

"I think for Liverpool and ourselves I think we arrive at this competition a little early, but the opportunity to play the Community Shield is always too early. We have to adapt."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Manchester City will have to get used to having Erling Haaland in the side, just as his team must adapt to Darwin Nunez.

The two best teams in England bolstered their fearsome attacks in the off-season, with City signing Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool spending big on Nunez from Benfica.

Since making his debut for Dortmund in January 2020, only Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) have scored more goals among players from Europe's top five leagues than Haaland, who netted 86 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions for BVB.

Meanwhile, Nunez enjoyed a brilliant season in 2021-22, scoring 34 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League.

Both players impressively outperformed their expected goals (xG) totals in their respective league competitions, too; Haaland scored 22 from an xG of 18.5, while Nunez netted 26 from an xG of 18.4.

Haaland netted in City's pre-season win over Bayern Munich, as Nunez scored four in a 5-0 rout of RB Leipzig last week.

The duo are set to make their competitive debuts in Saturday's Community Shield clash between City and Liverpool, and ahead of that game, Klopp believes both teams – who have often played without a natural centre-forward – must adapt to their new strikers.

"I watched the Bayern [v City] game – they're not used to Erling's natural runs yet, like we're not used to Darwin's," Klopp told a news conference.

"They'll need some time for Erling, but that doesn't mean he can’t score. Most things look like last year, how they set up the press. No real changes."

Both City and Liverpool also have to adapt to losing some key performers. 

While not always regulars at City, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus have proved crucial to Pep Guardiola's success, and Liverpool now have to find a way to play without Sadio Mane, who has left for Bayern Munich. Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino are also gone.

Yet Klopp is confident Nunez, along with fellow additions Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsey, can help Liverpool develop.

"[We've] lost three first team players, Sadio, Divock and Taki, brought in three, and there's space for young players to step in as well," Klopp said.

"We're together for a while and know each other and what we expect from each other. We want to use the togetherness we have and the experiences we've had for the better."

Here we go again. Some 69 days on from taking their latest Premier League title battle down to the final minutes of the final day of the last campaign, Manchester City and Liverpool prepare to face off in the 2022-23 curtain-raiser.

Liverpool not only missed out to City on the title but also tasted defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final the following week, although the 2021-22 season was not all bad as they lifted both the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

It has been a busy window for both clubs in terms of incoming and outgoing activity, but England's two dominant forces appear certain to battle it out for a share of the major honours once again this time around.

The first of the trophies up for grabs is the Community Shield this weekend, contested between the winners of the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup. 

While some question just how competitive the fixture exactly is – especially this campaign, with the match being held away from Wembley – it provides both sides with an opportunity to lay down an early marker for what is to come over the next 10 months. 


Community Shield with a difference

If Jose Mourinho was so eager to count it as a major honour, then who are we to argue against the Portuguese, who lifted the shield with both Chelsea and Manchester United.

This year's game is a little different in more ways than one, though, as for the first time since 1958 – when Bolton Wanderers beat Wolves 4-1 in the month of October – the showpiece will be held outside of August, a knock-on effect of the World Cup being staged midway through the campaign.

It is also the earliest in the calendar year the match has taken place since 1922 when Liverpool were beaten by Huddersfield Town in May.

Not only is the traditional date of the fixture different, so too is the venue. With Wembley being used for the Women's Euro 2022 final on Sunday, the contest will be held away from England's national stadium for the first time in a decade, since City beat Chelsea at Villa Park.

The game is instead being hosted by the King Power Stadium, and that could be bad news for Jurgen Klopp, who has lost more games at this venue (five) than he has at any other ground as Liverpool boss, excluding Anfield.

 

Reds' losing streak

There are plenty of familiarities this weekend, however, not least the fact that it will be City and Liverpool facing off for a trophy – albeit with this only their second encounter in the Community Shield, following City's penalty shoot-out success three years ago.

Liverpool are aiming to lift the trophy for a 16th time, which would move them level with Arsenal and behind only Manchester United (21), including occasions when the shield was shared. City are sixth on the list of all-time winners, seeking their seventh triumph this time around.

City may not have had as much success in the curtain-raising fixture down the years as Liverpool, but they have triumphed in three of their past five appearances – in 2012, 2018 and 2019.

The Reds' record is far less impressive in recent times, having lost four of their past six Community Shield matches, including each of the past two against City in 2019 and Arsenal in 2020.

 

Goals galore in Leicester?

If recent encounters between these sides have taught us anything, it is that we can expect to be entertained at the King Power Stadium on Saturday. 

Both teams have scored in eight of the past nine meetings between City and Liverpool in all competitions, including each of the past five in a row. Across those most recent nine matches, 33 goals have been netted in total – an average of 3.7 per game.

Last season alone saw both sides score at least twice in their three meetings in all competitions, which finished in a couple of four-goal draws in the league and a 3-2 win for Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals.

 

All eyes on Salah

Both sides will look slightly different following a busy period of transfers, and seeing how the likes of Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho perform – if indeed used – will be one of the most exciting aspects.

There will be plenty of familiar faces on show, too, including Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who has been involved in 11 goals in 14 games against City for the Reds, making them his second-favourite opponent behind West Ham (12 goal involvements).

Pep Guardiola will also hope to get some minutes out of Phil Foden, who has yet to feature in pre-season due to visa issues that prevented him travelling to the United States.

The England international enjoys playing against Liverpool, scoring and assisting a combined five goals against them in five starts, although he has failed to do so in his past two outings in this fixture.

Pep Guardiola is confident Erling Haaland and the rest of Manchester City's new signings will settle in swiftly, though he acknowledged the Premier League champions have lost some key players.

Club stalwart Fernandinho left when his contract expired at the end of last season, and City have sold three other players who played a role in Guardiola's success, with Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea while Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko departed for Arsenal.

City already have most of their replacements through the door. Julian Alvarez was signed in January and has now linked up with the squad, while a deal was struck with Borussia Dortmund for prolific striker Haaland in May.

Kalvin Phillips has been signed from Leeds United to bolster City's midfield and Stefan Ortega has joined as a back-up goalkeeper, facilitating a loan move to Middlesbrough for Zack Steffen.

City's new recruits could get their first taste of competitive action on Saturday, when Guardiola's side face FA Cup winners Liverpool in the Community Shield.

Though he has been impressed with how quickly the new arrivals have started their City careers, Guardiola emphasised how important the players who have moved on were to his squad.

He told a news conference: "If you analyse what happened in the last years, without these important players it would be difficult to imagine it. We wish all of them the best.

"New people arrived, they settled quickly, down to earth and very humble people. We are going to try, this is Manchester City, we are all of us, we try to be a competitive team, to win our first title. 

"It's an honour to compete again [for the Community Shield], we will try to do a good game against an opponent we know well, it will dictate a little bit how is our moment, our level. Two, three weeks of pre-season is too short, but I saw many good things in this period."

Asked if it would take time for his new players to adapt, Guardiola said: "Hopefully not, the quicker they settle the better. It's my feeling they will not take time.

"Stefan surprised us a lot, how good he is on the ball and with our build-up, Kalvin knows the Premier League perfectly. The way they've listened, behaved, the minutes they've played. I think they'll settle quickly."

Guardiola was pressed on whether this was a "reset" the squad required, but the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss stressed that was not necessarily the case.

"Sometimes the transfer market dictates what you want to do," he explained. "The first season when we arrived we tried to loan, sell players and could not. This year I do not know what happened.

"Sometimes you want to do things, but it depends not just how good or bad we are but on the situations, and these situations happened quicker than we expected.

"The three players who have been sold, if they stayed with us they would have been incredibly happy. I know them, they [would have] continued to do what they had done. These situations have happened, we make our replacements, and they are here.

"Normally when a project is six, seven years, you are not seven years with the same people. When I arrived there was just Kevin [De Bruyne]. We have gratitude for the guys that were here. All the players have made an incredible contribution, we can only be grateful."

City are interested in signing Brighton and Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella, who on Friday was said to have handed in a transfer request in an attempt to push through a move, with the Seagulls reportedly holding out for a £50million fee.

Guardiola refused to comment further, though he did note it was an area of the pitch City would like to strengthen if possible.

Aymeric Laporte, meanwhile, is likely to be out until at least September after having knee surgery, Guardiola confirmed.

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.