Kevin De Bruyne expects Manchester City to by pushed for the Premier League title to the end by Liverpool.
The City playmaker, who is now fit again after six weeks out with a knee injury, has no reason to doubt the Reds will maintain their challenge. Champions City finished 19 points clear of their nearest rivals last season but De Bruyne cannot envisage a repeat of that.
“I don’t know why they can’t sustain it – I think they will go on to the end,” he said.
“I’m not too worried about them (because) they will do what they do and we’ll have to try to win our games and go forward. They’ll try to keep pace with us and vice versa.
“But it’s still early. There’s no pressure. We need to do what we do.”
The two sides, who drew 0-0 in October, are due to meet for a second time this season at the Etihad Stadium in January.
That may allow one side to land a blow but it will not be decisive and there are many other factors that could see the lead keep changing hands again over the remainder of the season.
De Bruyne said: “You know how it goes. You can have a week where you lose three games and everyone speaks differently.
“There is still so long to go. The amount of games can trip you up, injuries can trip you up.”
City suffered their first serious setback of their title defence last week as they were beaten at Chelsea. They responded by beating Everton 3-1 at home on Saturday with two goals from Gabriel Jesus and another from Raheem Sterling.
Jesus’ goals were his first in the Premier League since August and were a good response after recent criticism over his performances.
The Brazilian looked a more confident player than he did earlier in the season and the 21-year-old put that down to the support of his family. His mother has joined him in
Manchester while other family members have also been visiting.
Manager Pep Guardiola said: “To have his family here is so important and I think it’s going to help him.
“We can’t forget that football players are human beings and there are many players who have the talent but are in bad, bad form because of personal issues – maybe getting divorced, Things not going well at home, problems with their mum, dad, whatever.
“That can influence Things a lot on the pitch, more than people can imagine or expect and sometimes we don’t know it.
“That’s why Gabriel has that feeling that, with his family here, he will be calmer, better. It’s good to have your family there. I could not live without my family.”
Guardiola was also pleased to see the 21-year-old giving his post-match interviews in English.
He said: “It’s the first time I listened to him in the media speaking English. That’s cool.
“I insist on them having to learn English because sometimes I have the feeling he maybe doesn’t understand me when I speak in English.
“It’s important to have that feeling that he’s speaking English much better.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is paying no attention to what Premier League title-rivals Manchester City are doing as his side hit back in the ding-dong battle at the top of the table.
A 3-1 win over Manchester United – the club’s first in nine attempts and Klopp’s first as Reds boss – returned them to the summit after Pep Guardiola’s side had moved above them on Saturday.
Liverpool have a chance to extend their one-point advantage further as they play Wolves on Friday night but Klopp is focusing on what his side do and not what their rivals are up to.
“We ignored it completely. I didn’t mention it one time,” he said.
“We know the table, just are you focused on it or not. We played tonight against Man Utd and not Man Utd and City.
“When we eat and train together we are not saying ‘Did you see what City did?’.
“We are focused on what we need to do and will there come a moment in the season where we are still around them and we start hoping they drop points or whatever.
“But at the moment we respect them a lot and they respect us. We meet them on January 3 and then we will think about them.”
Sadio Mane’s brilliant opener was cancelled out by a first-half error by goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who dropped Romelu Lukaku’s cross at the feet of Jesse Lingard, but Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to score twice in the last 20 minutes for a deserved victory.
Klopp was impressed by the way his side, still unbeaten, went about their task after two successive goalless draws at home to United.
“Very, very (pleased). It was a good game. A brilliant start, one of the best performances we’ve had since I’m at Liverpool,” he added.
“The first half an hour was outstanding. We scored only one but I don’t think anyone expected to score four or five times or whatever.
“How we played was just perfect: we tried to pass in the right areas, we played in behind the lines and was just good.
“Then after half an hour we lost momentum of the game a little bit, they scored then, it was a little bit open.
“It wasn’t as if Man United come completely on top of the game, it was just a bit more open.
“Then they changed and when (Marouane) Fellaini is on the pitch it is never a good sign for the opposition because these balls are so difficult to defend.
“But we got the dominance back step-by-step and then Shaq closed the game.
“It was really nice and I think absolutely deserved.”
Shaqiri took his tally to five for the season with his double after a brilliant 20-minute cameo.
“Shaq is such a skilled boy, he has to make an impact forward. It wouldn’t make much sense for him to receive the ball and pass it back,” said Klopp.
“We needed a bit of luck, both goals deflected, but being in the situation was good football and the first goal, what a goal.
“Brilliant, exactly like we have to do it. Fantastic pass, super control, perfect finish.”
Sadio Mane began the punishment in the 24th minute but his effort was cancelled out by Jesse Lingard nine minutes later courtesy of an error from Alisson.
United were clinging on in the hopes of salvaging a point but Liverpool’s relentless pressure paid off with second half substitute Xherdan Shaqiri firing twice in the 73rd and 80th minutes to seal a victory that took the Merseyside outfit back to the top of the Premier League.
Here’s a look at how Jose Mourinho fared in the tactical battle with Jurgen Klopp.
Goals – 1
Shots – 6
Possession – 36%
Tackles – 25
Dribbles – 8
The crowd at Anfield, millions watching around the world, Liverpool’s players and even United’s all knew one thing for certain – Mourinho was about to park the bus.
Dress up his defensive tactics all you like but on this occasion there was nothing sophisticated about it. Apart from the front three, all of United’s outfield players were positioned on the edge of their own penalty area while even Lingard was also behind the ball.
The plan on the break? Hit it towards either Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford and hope for the best. Mid-table mentality at best.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
It’s one thing to employ a low block, but to be Manchester United and vacate the midfield entirely is just plain cowardice. Yes, Liverpool boast a fearsome frontline so to err on the side of caution is wise. However, Mourinho removed United’s competitive edge entirely.
When the hosts got hold of the ball, a defensive midfield duo of Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic sprinted away from the man on the ball to take up statuesque positions on the edge of their own box. That only invited Liverpool onto them.
One stat says it all – 36 attempts from Liverpool to United’s six. That’s the most shots United have faced in the Premier League. This was always only going to go one way and Mourinho’s archaic tactics did little to steer it otherwise.