Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has jokingly hit back at a reminder that Liverpool will be looking to get revenge on defeat at Anfield last season with a full crowd.
City have endured a poor record at Liverpool’s home ground since Pep Guardiola took charge. In fact, the Spaniard has only guided his side to the one win there in that time – the first for his club in 18 years.
Although, last season’s 4-1 triumph came with Liverpool in a perfect storm of key injuries and a lack of fans.
No Premier League team had supporters present last February, but the Reds have missed their supporters more than most.
As well as the Anfield faithful, centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez have returned from injury.
Asked what the return of fans to Sunday’s clash in particular would mean, Guardiola joked that he had his happiness “destroyed”.
“You have destroyed my happiness because you don’t credit what we did last season. I will never forgive you!” he said.
“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.
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“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. Everything is more alive, it’s more difficult.”
Guardiola insisted that City’s poor record at Anfield was “not about intimidation”.
He added: “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.”
Guardiola hails Klopp coaching influence
Nevertheless, City showed last season that they have the firepower to score at Anfield, even amid the lack of an out-and-out striker.
In the summer, they added Jack Grealish to a collection of attackers including Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez.
Guardiola has coached his team to three Premier League titles and the FA Cup – among other silverware – since he took charge, but says he could not have done it without Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp‘s help.
“He helped me, his teams helped me to be a better manager,” Guardiola said. “Give me another level to think about it, prove myself, what I have to do to be a better manager with our teams to try and beat them.
“It’s the reason why I’m still in this business. There are some managers, Jurgen is one, to challenge you to move a step forward. In Germany when we face each other, I couldn’t face him in Barcelona.
“Here we have many years, many competitions together. Every game was nice, both teams have the same idea, go to score goals in different ways. Quicker than us, but in the same way to win the games.”
City can move above unbeaten Liverpool with victory on Sunday.