Sport Soccer

Monday 21 May 2018

Pep Guardiola identifies the team he expects to challenge Manchester City for next season's Premier League title

The Reds have beaten Manchester City in their last three meetings.

Pep Guardiola (right) expects a strong challenge from Jurgen Klopp (left) next season
Pep Guardiola (right) expects a strong challenge from Jurgen Klopp (left) next season

By Andy Hampson, Press Association Sport

Pep Guardiola expects Liverpool to mount a strong Premier League title challenge next year.

Guardiola’s side have swept almost all before them during this season’s record-breaking title-winning campaign but Reds have had their number in recent meetings.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have been one of only two teams to beat City in the league while they also won both legs of their Champions League quarter-final.

ipanews_1e3e5ac4-a3df-41f4-bbb8-1b942813901e_embedded235937731
Liverpool knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League

Liverpool have since gone on to reach the final of the European competition and Guardiola thinks they will be one of a number of sides gunning for their top spot next term.

The City manager said: “This season they were a big contender and they will be again next season.

“I will not say just Liverpool, but it’s true – Liverpool, (because of) the way they play and the quality of their players, not just up front.

ipanews_1e3e5ac4-a3df-41f4-bbb8-1b942813901e_embedded236038365
Manchester City v Liverpool

“I think (Virgil) van Dijk has helped them a lot to be more consistent in the defensive department, especially in the box, and (there is) the quality up front and the quality in the way they play.

“Jurgen is a top manager, creating not just an offensive style and not just thinking about the spectators. He’s always positive, going there and creating good environments in the clubs.

“OK, we are 25 points in front so it’s difficult to say he was difficult (to play against) in the end – but he was because they beat us. Next season will be the same, like (Manchester) United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham.”

Klopp advocates a similar high-pressing philosophy to Guardiola, but the City boss thinks the German’s approach is slightly different.

He said: “I think both teams want to attack – Tottenham as well. It doesn’t matter what happens, they want to try and want to attack.

“But I think the way they attack and defend is a little bit different. Sometimes we look more for the sides, but after (an opposition) attack they are more direct.

ipanews_1e3e5ac4-a3df-41f4-bbb8-1b942813901e_embedded230603242
Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp

“But I think the idea is quite similar – we both want to try to win the game for ourselves and they don’t wait for what will happen. I wish him all the best in the final.”

Kyle Walker, signed from Tottenham last summer, has shone during City’s brilliant season but Guardiola still expects more from the 27-year-old in future.

He said: “We are all so satisfied with his level but we spoke with him many times. It’s similar to when we speak with Raz (Raheem Sterling) and Leroy (Sane). He still has a big gap to improve – his style, his way to play, his focus in the game.

ipanews_1e3e5ac4-a3df-41f4-bbb8-1b942813901e_embedded236429681
Kyle Walker

“Hopefully we can help him have a target for the next season and try to help him to be a better player next season.”

City wrap up their season with a trip to Southampton on Sunday. They will then hold an open-top bus parade in Manchester city centre on Monday to celebrate their title and Carabao Cup triumphs.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport