Belfast Telegraph

Kyle Walker doesn’t think next week’s Liverpool clash will decide the title

Champions City sit six points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Anfield.

Kyle Walker scored Manchester City’s late winner against Southampton (Martin Rickett/PA)
Kyle Walker scored Manchester City’s late winner against Southampton (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Andy Hampson, PA

Kyle Walker has tried to play down the significance of Manchester City’s battle with Liverpool as the two sides prepare to meet next week.

City manager Pep Guardiola has already fanned the flames prior to Sunday’s clash of the Premier League’s top two at Anfield by accusing Reds players of diving.

Guardiola made the comment after Sadio Mane scored a late winner against Aston Villa on Saturday to ensure Liverpool remained six points ahead of the champions at the top of the table.

Sometimes he's diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. Pep Guardiola

Mane had been booked for diving earlier in the game, which Liverpool won 2-1.

“Sometimes he’s diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute,” Guardiola told the BBC.

Walker, who scored his own late winner as City came from behind to beat Southampton by the same scoreline at the Etihad Stadium, was less inflammatory.

“We were concentrating on our game,” said the City right-back, whose appearances in recent weeks have been restricted by illness.

“There are still so many games to play in the Premier League. Obviously, a lot of people talk about the title race, but anything can happen in football as you have just seen.

“We just need to keep doing our job, keep getting the three points and that’s all we can do really.”

City and Liverpool were both involved in similar games, needing to fight back after conceding early.

In City’s case, they were stung by a Southampton side anxious to make a point after their 9-0 thrashing by Leicester in their last league outing.

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James Ward-Prowse gave Southampton a surprise early lead (Martin Rickett/PA)

James Ward-Prowse pounced for the opener after 13 minutes following a mistake by Ederson.

City bombarded the Southampton box in response but the visitors repelled everything until Sergio Aguero finally equalised 20 minutes from time. Walker grabbed the winner with four minutes to play after Alex McCarthy palmed an Angelino cross in his direction.

“First and foremost, I think we played a good game,” said Walker. “They got one shot and they put it in the back of the net. That’s football.

“We had most of the ball possession and we caused their keeper lots of problems. I think the key was our patience and persistence, also being positive. Luckily, I was there at the right time.”

Talk will now inevitably turn to Sunday but first City have a Champions League fixture away to Atalanta on Wednesday.

Angelino, who made his first Premier League start against Saints, said: “Our focus is on the Champions League now.

“We know we have a very important week before the break so we have to stay positive and work hard for the next game, and then after doing our job in the week we will focus on Liverpool.”

Southampton remain in the bottom three but the performance was at least a source for encouragement after last week’s humiliation.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “It’s important for us to see we can defend in that way against such a team, but we know Everton (next week) is a completely different game.

“We play at home and must play differently, but we can and we will.

“Hopefully the supporters were proud of our team and the players. We showed how much we can invest, and we have to do it always. I think this is the most important thing.”

PA

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