Pep Guardiola has laid bare the scale of the task facing Manchester City at Anfield. Not only will the champions face a Liverpool team who, he said, are the “strongest in the world”, but will do so in an arena which is the “toughest stadium in Europe to go to”.
Even if his intent was surely to motivate his players, to appeal to their competitive nature and pride, the City manager should know. Anfield is the only place he has been to at least three times and not won.
Famously he called it “a b—– of a ground” because that has happened against no other team – in Spain, Germany or England – in his storied coaching career. And victory is essential for the champions; a defeat is unthinkable, even in November. It really is set to be a Super Sunday between, arguably, the two most exciting club sides in world football with Jurgen Klopp even urging the hot dog sellers to up their game.
If Liverpool were to win they would open up a nine-point lead that, with 26 Premier League games to go, would surely not appear insurmountable for a team of City’s awesome capabilities. Except this is Klopp’s Liverpool and a relentless Liverpool, as Guardiola acknowledged, who lost just once in the league last season, albeit to City at the Etihad in January when there were millimetres between the teams, literally, with a John Stones goal-line clearance effectively settling the title.