Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola took a subtle swipe at Liverpool’s Premier League record after the Sky Blues thrashed Newcastle to go three points clear on Sunday. The Reds slipped up against Tottenham earlier in the weekend, and Guardiola appeared sour over the country’s apparent support for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they strive for an unprecedented Quadruple.
City bounced back from a crushing Champions League defeat against Real Madrid to batter the Magpies at the Etihad. Rodri, Phil Foden, Aymeric Laporte and two Raheem Sterling goals sealed the three points in style, successfully capitalising on Liverpool’s earlier slip-up.
Klopp hit out against Tottenham’s defensive game plan on Saturday, which earned Antonio Conte’s side a 1-1 draw, and Guardiola equally happy to shoot from the hip as he spoke of the country and media’s support for Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
“Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone,” said the Spaniard after defeating Newcastle. “Of course, because Liverpool have an incredible history in Europe.
“Not in Premier League because they’ve won one in 30 years, but it’s not a problem at all. The situation is what it is. We have to get nine points or maybe six right now. It depends on what is going to happen in the next two games in terms of goal difference.
“It’s Wednesday [against Wolves] that is the real, real, real final for us. Our destiny is in our hands. Liverpool, alongside Manchester United, are the important teams in all history in terms of titles, history, drama. Since the last 10 years we have been there. I know we are sometimes uncomfortable, but I don’t care. If the people want Liverpool more than us it’s not an issue.
“We can lose a game and they can win all their games so goal difference is important right now. They have the threat and quality up front to do it. Now it’s not about that, it’s Wolves.”
Indeed, there may not be a huge amount of malice behind Guardiola’s subtle dig, even though he was not exactly prompted to point out Liverpool’s historic Premier League misfortune. The former Barcelona boss recently branded Klopp as ‘the great rival in his career’, and huge respect has flowed both ways during the Reds’ clashes with City this campaign.
While Liverpool have had to make do with just the one title in the last three decades, City have been to blame for some of their near-misses in recent years. Last campaign they were struck by injuries and finished third, while in 2018/19 they were pipped by the Sky Blues by a single point after a classic race for the crown.
City hold the league’s destiny in their own hands, even if tough trips to Wolves and West Ham are next on the agenda. Liverpool will rely on a slip-up from Guardiola if they are to swoop in and complete their comeback.
But Klopp’s side also have the small matters of FA Cup and Champions League finals to contend with which could have an effect on their final three Premier League matches.