Pep Guardiola picks out five Liverpool players his side must watch out for

As Manchester City brace for their top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool, coach Pep Guardiola couldn't help but shower praise on the Reds, picking out five key players who he believes could pose a substantial threat to his team this Saturday.

Speaking ahead of the game at the Etihad, the Spaniard explained the immensity of the tactical challenge posed by any team managed by his long-term adversary, Jurgen Klopp.

"We're old friends, know each other quite well," he said, reflecting on their battles over the years, including when they locked horns as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund coach, respectively. "Time goes forward, eight or nine years, not the same players – they have Trent Alexander-Arnold inside or outside - but the idea is similar."

Quick transitions

Guardiola praised the speed at which Klopp's teams transition from defence to attack and singled out Liverpool's potent attacking options, highlighting five players in the current side that could cause his team problems on Saturday.

"We have a lot of space in behind," he explained, "and they have incredible runs with [Luis] Diaz, with Darwin Nunez, with [Mohamed] Salah of course, and now with [Dominik] Szoboszlai and [Ryan] Gravenberch."

The quintet's blistering pace and ability to exploit spaces should ensure his team are kept on their toes, he explained: "For them [it's] good because of the transitions."

"They are a fantastic team, fantastic legs. A top side, no doubt."

An enduring rivalry

Guardiola went on to highlight the enduring relationship between the two sides, comparable to the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry, he said, acknowledging Liverpool's consistent presence as City's most formidable rival in recent years.

"The last decade they’ve been our best rivals and that’s the reality, and still we are there – that’s a big compliment that after many years we are still there," he said.

The City boss then delved into the impact his opposite number has had on his own managerial growth.

"Absolutely, absolutely [Klopp has made me a better manager]," Guardiola admitted. "He helped me reflect on a lot of the things. The problems that we face. Absolutely."

"[We've] always been big rivals, good games for both sides, positive approach to the games and always attractive games," he added, hinting at an intense battle to come on Saturday lunchtime.

How the tactical battle eventually pans out at the Etihad will certainly be intriguing.

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