Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola plays down importance of Old Trafford games in title race

Manchester City and Liverpool both have to head to Manchester United before the end of the season.

Trips to Manchester United loom large for both Pep Guardiola, right, and Jurgen Klopp (Martin Rickett/PA)
Trips to Manchester United loom large for both Pep Guardiola, right, and Jurgen Klopp (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pep Guardiola has refused to be drawn into suggestions the title race between Manchester City and Liverpool could be decided by trips to Old Trafford.

Manchester United may be out of contention for the Premier League crown this season but they could still have a big influence in the outcome of the battle between their two fiercest rivals.

United will host current leaders Liverpool on February 24 while City are scheduled to cross town to their neighbours on March 16.

Asked at a press conference if he would welcome a favour from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the first of those key fixtures, City boss Guardiola was coy.

Manchester City could be hoping for a favour from Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (John Walton/PA)

He said: “If Liverpool are in front two or three points going to Old Trafford and United are 10 or 12 points behind us, what do you think I am going to think the day before that game?

“But I don’t know. We have to go to Old Trafford too and try to win there. If United beat Liverpool – perfect – but if United beat us the situation is the same.

“We can do what we can do against United (but) Liverpool – zero, nothing. I don’t have the telephone number for Solskjaer!

“What we can do is beat United when we go there. It is a big mistake to think about that when you want to compete in all the competitions and focus on what we have to do.

Jurgen Klopp, right, and Mohamed Salah are posing a problem for Manchester City in the title race (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Before United-Liverpool I’ll tell you more clearly but there are many games for both sides before those games.”

City, who travel to bottom side Huddersfield on Sunday, could face possible fixture congestion in the latter part of the season as their interest in four competitions continues.

With City set to formalise their place in the Carabao Cup final next week – they have a 9-0 aggregate lead after the first leg of their semi-final against Burton – the trip to Everton on February 23 will have to be rearranged. The United fixture could also be moved due to FA Cup progress.

Guardiola, however, is not overly concerned about the issue.

“Of course I am a little bit concerned but it is what it is,” he said. “What can we do?

“Of course when you are fresh mentally and in the legs in the last stages it is much better, but also when you play every three days everybody is in the rhythm and focused.

“Sometimes when you have one week or 10 days off that is wrong for the rhythm.

“We will see. When the league decide we are going to play we are going to play.”



From Belfast Telegraph