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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Pep Guardiola: Expect Liverpool to challenge Manchester City for titles next season

Jurgen Klopp's men have been one of only two teams to beat City in Premier League and Uefa Champions League games

Jurgen Klopp, left, and Pep Guardiola are likely to be fighting for titles in the new season. Carl Recine / Reuters
Jurgen Klopp, left, and Pep Guardiola are likely to be fighting for titles in the new season. Carl Recine / Reuters

Pep Guardiola expects Liverpool to mount a strong Premier League title challenge next year.

Guardiola's side have swept almost all before them during this season's record-breaking title-winning campaign but Reds have had their number in recent meetings.

Jurgen Klopp's men have been one of only two teams to beat City in the league while they also won both legs of their Uefa Champions League quarter-final.

Liverpool have since gone on to reach the final of the European competition and Guardiola thinks they will be one of a number of sides gunning for their top spot next term.

"This season they were a big contender and they will be again next season," the City manager said. "I will not say just Liverpool, but it's true - Liverpool, [because of] the way they play and the quality of their players, not just up front.

"I think [Virgil] van Dijk has helped them a lot to be more consistent in the defensive department, especially in the box, and [there is] the quality up front and the quality in the way they play.

"Jurgen is a top manager, creating not just an offensive style and not just thinking about the spectators. He's always positive, going there and creating good environments in the clubs.

"OK, we are 25 points in front so it's difficult to say he was difficult [to play against] in the end - but he was because they beat us. Next season will be the same, like [Manchester] United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham."

Klopp advocates a similar high-pressing philosophy to Guardiola, but the City manager thinks the German's approach is slightly different.

He said: "I think both teams want to attack - Tottenham as well. It doesn't matter what happens, they want to try and want to attack.

"But I think the way they attack and defend is a little bit different. Sometimes we look more for the sides, but after [an opposition] attack they are more direct.

"But I think the idea is quite similar - we both want to try to win the game for ourselves and they don't wait for what will happen. I wish him all the best in the final."

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Kyle Walker, signed from Tottenham last summer, has shone during City's brilliant season but Guardiola still expects more from the 27-year-old in future.

He said: "We are all so satisfied with his level but we spoke with him many times. It's similar to when we speak with Raz [Raheem Sterling] and Leroy [Sane]. He still has a big gap to improve - his style, his way to play, his focus in the game.

"Hopefully we can help him have a target for the next season and try to help him to be a better player next season."

City wrap up their season with a trip to Southampton on Sunday. They will then hold an open-top bus parade in Manchester city centre on Monday to celebrate their title and Carabao Cup triumphs.