Man City boss Pep Guardiola appears to have cunningly started the psychological warfare ahead of the huge showdown between Manchester City and Liverpool after the international break.
The fixture which is on 25 November at the Etihad Stadium is next on the calendar for both teams, who sit first and second respectively in the Premier League after 12 games, with the defending champions now just one point ahead of the Reds after the weekend’s results.
City conceded an injury time equaliser in a breathtaking 4-4 draw at 10th-placed Chelsea, although their manager was eager to point out the strong record boasted by the west London outfit at home to title-chasing opposition.
As he went on the defensive about his team’s result yesterday, Guardiola said of Mauricio Pochettino’s side:
“They are so dangerous, they are a really good team. Liverpool could not win, Arsenal… they were much, much better than Arsenal and then at the end Arsenal drew.”
Guardiola is pointing out a fact in saying that Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal have all had to settle for a draw away to Chelsea this season, although he may have been attempting to send a pointed message to the Reds in his post-match comments on Sunday evening.
The top two have both ticked another Premier League venue off their list already this term, but in that instance they had contrasting results – while Jurgen Klopp’s team won away to Wolves in September, the champions were beaten at Molineux a fortnight later.
City cruised to a 4-1 victory the last time we visited the Etihad at the beginning of April, but their manager knows full well that it’ll be a much more confident and vivacious LFC who go there in 12 days’ time.
Direct clashes between the pair have had a massive bearing on previous title races which involved both teams, and while he’d never admit it publicly, Guardiola will surely know deep down that a Liverpool win on Saturday week would strike a huge psychological blow.
That first game after the international break won’t define the season for either club, but it has the potential to serve as a major springboard for whichever team emerges victorious, if there’s a decisive result – and both managers know it.