“They Are The Best Team In Europe” Respect Ahead Of Manchester City Title Clash With Liverpool
Many a football fan would have been less excited for the heralding of the New Year, then for the titillating clash between Manchester City and Liverpool that follows just three days later, at the Eithad Stadium.
There’s now a seven-point gap between the two sides - arguably the two best in Europe - with Tottenham Hotspur nestled in between.
How City must now rue Riyad Mahrez’ missed penalty at Anfield which could have inflicted a first defeat on the table-toppers back at the beginning of October.
Liverpool have now won 17 of their 20 Premier League fixtures - nine so far in a row - to record a tally of 54 points. If they continue this run of form - winning 85% of their final 18 matches and taking a couple of draws - they will be well on course to breaking Manchester City’s 100-point record set last season.
Cityzens manager Pep Guardiola has spoken out ahead of the highly-anticipated clash, with the press conference dominated as to whether the Spaniard and his side had blown their chances of retaining the league title.
I cannot imagine that what happened in the past is going to happen in the future. I have the feeling that everybody can beat us but I have the feeling that we can beat everyone else.
It’s Liverpool, my friends, with [Manchester] United the best team in England with their history.
I know nobody trusts us today but it is what it is. They are in top form but I said in my previous conference for me they are the best team in Europe.
The reality is clear. We are seven points down. This will be the second game of the second leg so there are a lot of points to play for. It is a big opportunity for us to reduce the gap. Our focus is the same. Everybody has been asking what will happen if we lose. We are going to try to make our game, to be there and be fighting for the Premier League for as far as possible.
A win for Liverpool would see them have an almost unassailable lead over their nearest title challengers and virtually have a home run to ending their 30-year wait for the English title. Manchester City would need to see Liverpool amount to slipping to to four losses in the second half of the season. So far this season, the Reds are undefeated.
Guardiola's Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp has continued the love-in ahead of their meeting;
"Man City are still the best football team in the world. We are in a good moment 100% and we are a very good team too."
Manchester City versus Liverpool kicks off Thursday 3rd January at 8pm (GMT).