City and Liverpool – the top two sides in the Premier League, who are both still unbeaten – face each other in an early-season blockbuster at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool inflicted one of only two defeats suffered by City in their otherwise relentless march to the title last term and they also beat them twice in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Since then the Reds have strengthened significantly and they look like genuine title contenders themselves this season.
City midfielder Silva said: “They bought a few players. I think they’re better this season, as the results tell. They’ve won all their games in the Premier League apart from one.
“They’re an aggressive team, they’re doing well. We beat them at home last season but at Anfield we weren’t able to play well enough to beat them. They were better than us, in my opinion.
“But we’ll try again, knowing that they have a very good squad but we will go with 100 per cent, so we can try to get the three points. We hope we can finish that (unbeaten) run.”
The pair’s fierce but amicable rivalry stretches back to 2013 when Guardiola was in charge at Bayern Munich and Klopp was at Borussia Dortmund. With eight wins from 14 meetings and just five defeats, Klopp boasts a record against Guardiola that is the envy of many other managers.
Guardiola’s haul of silverware does dwarf that of Klopp – with 27 major trophies compared to the German’s five – but the City boss has considerable respect for his Liverpool counterpart.
Guardiola said: “I don’t play against Jurgen, I try to win against Liverpool. That is the point but if he won it’s because he’s an excellent manager.
“I have a lot of respect for the way they play, how proactive are his teams are.
“They are a top team, especially since Jurgen took over and especially in the last period. He has a lot of weapons to attack you and they are masters in taking advantage of your mistakes.
“The three guys in front connect really well and it’s a top side.”
Guardiola said on Friday playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, out since August with a knee injury, would be assessed ahead of the game. The Belgian was expected to be out for three months but returned to training earlier this week.
Glenn Murray’s 99th goal for the club gave Brighton the lead at half-time, but it was their organised and resilient defending – on the same day centre-backs Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy signed new five-year contracts – that gave Hughton the most satisfaction as they climbed to 12th in the Premier League.
Heading into the international break, Hughton’s team have a total of eight points from eight fixtures in which Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham have been among their opposition, and the Brighton manager said: “The clean sheet’s really important for us.
“We spoke a lot about the start of the season we’ve had – we’ve had to play four of the big teams – but it’s no good speaking that way if you’re not able to capitalise on some of the games that are against very, very good opposition, but not top-six opposition. That showed.
“We were up against a really good West Ham side and you can see them scoring a lot of goals this season. We did the defensive things well and had to ride our luck a bit but the clean sheet was very pleasing.
“(Duffy and Dunk) deserve (their contracts) for what they’ve given this football club and will continue to give.”
Asked if 35-year-old Murray should be in contention for an England call-up, Hughton said: “All I can speak about is what Glenn gives us. For somebody at this stage of the season to have scored five goals in the Premier League for this club is a big achievement.
“Gareth’s done a wonderful job with the England team and he’ll make any decisions on the way that he wants to go.
“Glenn has always had the knack of being in the right place at the right time – he’s a player who has looked after himself really well and that enables him not only to get the goals but to have an impact on the overall game.”
The defeat was 15th-placed West Ham’s fifth from eight games, and ends the encouraging run that included last week’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United and leaves them at risk at falling to 17th by the weekend’s conclusion.
They were also perhaps fortunate that Jurgen Locadia’s late finish was ruled offside, but their manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “We made important mistakes in their goal, but we had chances.
“Maybe in the first 45 minutes they played with more intensity in the way they recovered the ball. But the last 45 minutes we had the pace, we had the football; they didn’t have one chance.
“We must continue working the same way because the way we played the last 45 minutes was encouraging.
“I’m more frustrated that we finished the game but lost 1-0 after creating three very clear chances, at least, to score. That’s why I cannot be happy.”
The Reds have tended to be a kryptonite for City in recent seasons, especially at home, while Reds manager Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed playing that role against opposite number Pep Guardiola for quite a while now.
But it’s the players who execute the two coaches’ clashing gameplans. Here’s a look at the key battles that will determine the outcome.
Roberto Firmino v Sergio Aguero
Roberto Firmino hasn’t been in great scoring form of late.
He only has three goals this season, two in the league. In fact, when it comes to finding the back of the net, though he finished seventh in last season’s scoring standings it was with a merely respectable tally of 15.
It didn’t matter because Firmino’s play was helping Mohamed Salah score for fun. But the Egyptian’s form hasn’t hit last season’s heights, which has the added effect of bringing his team-mate’s scoring record into the spotlight.
As long as Liverpool keep chugging along, it won’t matter who scores the goals. But they could still do with their central striker finding the net more regularly.
No such problems over at City, where Sergio Aguero shows no signs of slowing down, just over a year after his future at City was in doubt following speculations that Guardiola didn’t consider the striker the ideal man for his system.
That argument has disappeared completely following a season in which his goals delivered a league title, and he’s started this campaign with six goals across competitions.
Five of those have come in the league, including a hat-trick against Huddersfield. He’s scored in three-straight games, though given that those were all one-goal performances, he’s probably due a brace or another hat-trick against Liverpool.
James Milner v David Silva
James Milner might be 32, but these days it seems like his best is still being unlocked, or just getting better and better. His ability to find a team-mate simply by being in the right place to play the right pass is among the best in the league – he’s currently tied for seventh in the Premier League’s all-time assist charts with 80, and he could easily end up becoming just the fourth man to 100.
Finally being consistently played as a midfielder since last season, he’s now a guaranteed starter in a team that bought two midfielders this summer. Says it all.
Unlike Milner, fellow 32-year-old David Silva has been far more feted in terms of overall recognition, though Milner has previously won a PFA award (2010 Young Player of the Year). Hopefully one day Silva equals that tally, because there is now a serious argument to be made that he’s the best midfielder in Premier League history.
It also does seem like Silva, too, is only getting better with age, like his former team-mate, and this season he’s been crucial to ensuring Kevin De Bruyne‘s injury-enforced absence hasn’t been felt at City. This fixture could throw up a midfield duel for the ages.
Andy Robertson v Kyle Walker
With each passing Andy Robertson performance, the £8 million Liverpool paid Hull City for him last summer seems less like mere daylight robbery and more a legendary heist deserving of a movie, perhaps with an all-star ensemble cast playing the much-derided Anfield transfer committee.
In a poor Liverpool display against Napoli in midweek, the left-back was one of the few shining lights. Now it’s the fearsome City attack he has to stop, but who would bet against him?
Part of that attack includes City’s own full-back, as Kyle Walker has cemented his reputation as the best attacking right-back in the league. Where once he was almost pure pace, now he’s got the skill, vision, and passing range to match, as Guardiola has molded him into the prototypical modern full-back.
He still uses that pace as a crutch to bail him out of the occasional defensive lapse, something that will be tested by Robertson’s own attacking ability. It should be a fascinating battle between the two players.