Pep Guardiola is not concerned about Manchester City’s poor Anfield record as they look to move closer to Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
A home win would put Liverpool – who were pipped to the title by Guardiola’s side in May – nine points ahead of City, who have managed one league win at Anfield since 1981.
“Regarding statistics, I don’t believe much in that kind of thing,” he said.
“Statistics are OK but I’m thinking of what we have to do to beat them.”
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City’s only league victory at Anfield in the past 38 years came in May 2003 when they recorded a 2-1 victory.
This will be their first league meeting since January, when City won 2-1. That was Liverpool’s only league defeat of last season as they fought toe-to-toe for the title with a City side who finished with 14 consecutive wins to finish top by a point.
Guardiola’s counterpart Jürgen Klopp said he did not admire City but respected them.
The German said: “I don’t think about the City team of the last few years, I think about the City team of the moment, and that’s good enough for a proper game.
“The character of the team and the manager is pretty good, but the combination of speed and technique is always impressive in football.”
It is a rivalry that has been growing in intensity over the past two seasons both on and off the pitch – most notably when City’s team bus was attacked as it made its way to Anfield before a Champions League quarter-final in April 2018.
Merseyside Police is working with the clubs to ensure supporters “have a safe and enjoyable afternoon”.
Asked if this was the most exciting rivalry in Europe, Guardiola said: “I don’t know. Barcelona-Madrid is always incredible.
“It is two teams who made incredible seasons in the past two seasons. When we won the league by a big margin, they got to the final of the Champions League. Both teams have been incredibly consistent for the past 24 months.”
Liverpool have been given shorter odds than City to take three points, but when it was suggested his side go to Anfield as outsiders, the Catalonian manager said: “It is the people in the media who say we are outsiders or not, or we are the underdog or not.
“I never went into one game feeling like an outsider or that I am not going to win the game. I never felt that. Never. I am not going to take a bus to Anfield on Sunday thinking I am going to lose the game.”
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Meanwhile, City striker Sergio Aguero said his team-mates are ready to “fight until the very end” in order to defend their title.
“This season didn’t start off the way we wanted it to, and some of the results we’ve had weren’t the ones we set out to achieve,” he said, referring to two defeats and a draw.
“However, there’s a quite a bit of road ahead of us. It certainly won’t be easy, but who said it would ever be?
“We have to trust our game, give our utmost effort, and, just like usual, fight until the very end.”
City will be without first-choice goalkeeper Ederson for the match, with Claudio Bravo set for his first league appearance in 18 months.
David Silva, Rodri, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte will also be absent as they recover from their respective injuries.
Klopp, on the other hand, will have all his key players available as his side look for a 12th win from their first 13 league games, while also remaining unbeaten.
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The Reds boss said City still had enough quality to trouble them despite their depleted squad.
“We all have problems,” he said. “Last year [Kevin] De Bruyne couldn’t play against us, one of the best players in the world, and they still got results. That shows the quality of Man City.
“We all have to deal with setbacks and injuries, and they did pretty well. It’s not about comparing the team from last year, it’s about how do they deal with the situation and that’s quite impressive.”