9:06 AM ET
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool host Pep Guardiola’s Man City on Sunday . Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
Pep Guardiola said his players won’t be intimidated when Manchester City visit Anfield and insisted they can beat Liverpool in their home stadium whether supporters are there or not.
City won 4-1 at Anfield last season — their first victory at Liverpool’s home ground for 18 years — while fans were locked out because of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions.
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With those now relaxed, there will be a full house to watch City’s visit on Sunday but Guardiola said he is “pleased” fans are back.
“It’s not about intimidation,” Guardiola said. “It’s about the quality of the opponent. When you don’t win it’s because they are so good. We try to win games with or without spectators. But last season we won.
“I’m very pleased Anfield is full again and we can go there to play a game. It’s nice that the people are back and we can enjoy a fantastic atmosphere there.
“Hopefully we can handle it in a good way. I’m pretty sure the players would prefer to play with fans at Anfield than without.
“I don’t know the reasons why we didn’t win at Anfield over the 18 years. Over my five years, it was because they are an exceptional team.”
Guardiola will be without injured pair Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko as City look to bounce back from their Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
The trip to Liverpool rounds off a tough week after games at Chelsea and PSG but Guardiola believes that if they match their performance in Paris, they can win at Anfield for the second season in a row.
“In spite of the result in France the performance was excellent,” Guardiola said. “Same at Stamford Bridge and I hope we can continue nine more months ahead of us.
“The way we played the last two games, I’m so satisfied with what we’ve done. “The level of consistency and the way we play is so good. That’s why it makes me happier than ever.
“I cannot find words to express gratitude and compliment the way we’ve played these two games.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described City as the best team in Europe ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Liverpool are the only unbeaten team left in the league and are top of the table on 14 points, one point ahead of Guardiola’s City.
“We have to play a proper football game to have a chance, but it’s Anfield. We’re really looking forward to the game,” Klopp told reporters.
“We are in a good moment, that’s what you have to be to have a chance against them. For me, they’re the best team in Europe. Last weekend they played [and beat] Chelsea, who are good, but City were clearly better on that day.”