Premier League English

Pep Guardiola makes Man City and Liverpool claim ahead of Premier League opener

After watching his Man City team lose 3-1 to Liverpool in the Community Shield on Saturday, Pep Guardiola believes there are “many, many” Premier League teams who can reach the level of Liverpool and Manchester City – and that the only thing keeping the duo ahead of the pack is sheer consistency.

All expectations are again on both teams to be at each other’s necks for the championship once again this season as they played out an enthralling Community Shield on Saturday, which the Reds won 3-1, with both managers careful in not making a hue and cry over the end result. The general consensus is that Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea have made significant progress in recent years, with Arsenal tagging right behind in good stead while Manchester United are still busy in the transfer window hoping to prompt talk of a wider title race.

And while Guardiola is wary of the threat the wannabes could pose, he acknowledges City and Liverpool are now the major forces in England to be reckoned with seriously.

“What happened in the last years, yes, and especially the type of games that both provoke, both try to make actions and counter-attacks,” he said. “So yeah, I am pretty sure of that and have been in the last years.

“But I have respect for the other teams. There are many, many teams in the Premier League that can reach this level. But the consistency both teams had in the previous seasons is (the difference).”

Only Liverpool’s runaway triumph in 2019/20 has prevented City from winning an unprecedented five Premier League titles in a row.

Saturday’s success landed an early potential psychological blow for the Reds, but Guardiola has unshakeable faith in his players to hold off Jurgen Klopp’s side in the coming campaign.

“There is no reason not to be confident, given what these guys have done not just in Premier League but in the cups and steps they have done in Europe,” said the City boss. “I don’t know what is going to happen during the season or at the end, but I am pretty sure I know these guys. I have never doubted them for one second.

“We lost a final (against Liverpool) we prefer to win, a lot of respect and credit to the opponent. You know the standard, and we are going to reach it as quickly as possible.

“How close are we to where we want to be? Closer. We make an incredible performance against Bayern Munich and on Saturday we do good things. I don’t think we are far, far away but the games against West Ham United and Bournemouth will dictate our level and what we have to do. In the process, it won’t be perfect.”