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Pep Guardiola goes early with title race mind games – insists “Liverpool are better”

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Pep Guardiola appears to have already resorted to mind games at the halfway point of the Premier League, insisting that Liverpool are “better” than his Man City side.

The Citizens moved above Arsenal into third in the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday, keeping them firmly in the title picture despite a lacklustre start to the campaign.

Last season’s treble winners remain the bookies’ favourites to lift the title for a fourth consecutive season, but it is the Reds who find themselves at the top of the tree as things stand.

It looks as though the Spaniard might be struggling to come to terms with that, describing Liverpool as “better” than Man City despite their recent period of dominance in English football.

“We’re not top of the league, Liverpool are better,” Guardiola said to BBC after Man City eased to victory at Bramall Lane.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Friday, August 11, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Manchester City FC at Turf Moor. Man City won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We’ve had injuries and some problems, we won the titles, important ones, our level is really good I would say and we are there. Now rest, we all need it. January is less intense than November and December so we prepare for what’s next.”

The Man City boss is no stranger to dropping tactical lines such as this to the media in the midst of a title race, having dubbed the Reds the “best team in Europe” ahead of a top-of-the-table clash back in December 2018.

He also emphasised the “pressure” involved in sprinting for the finishing post later that season, when Liverpool cruelly came up just short despite posting a remarkable 97 points.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola (R) greets Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to be perturbed by such comments, with his team ticking along nicely having lost in the league just once – in controversial circumstances – since a trip to the Etihad back in April.

The quest for a 20th league title will continue on New Year’s Day at home to Newcastle, when the Reds will be looking to chalk up their sixth consecutive victory in the fixture.

It appears the astronomic point totals usually required to prevail in title races between the two clubs might not be necessary this season, with Liverpool currently top of the league despite being projected to end 2023/24 on 84 points.