Pep Guardiola has labelled Liverpool “the best team in the world,” after their excellent all-round display at Anfield earned a 3-1 win over Man City.
The pressure was on City heading into Sunday’s clash, following victories for both Chelsea and Leicester the day before, and they struggled to rise to the occasion.
Liverpool had no such trouble, with a consuming performance putting them 2-0 up at the break through Fabinho and Mohamed Salah, and extending their lead through Sadio Mane before the hour.
Bernando Silva denied Alisson a clean sheet, but there was little doubting the Reds deserved the three points.
And despite his ire at a series of refereeing decisions, Guardiola praised his rivals in his post-match press conference.
“You can’t always win in life; [what is] important is the way you live,” he philosophised.
“The way you are, with problems that we have, under pressure in a position against the best team, right now, in the world.”
The Spaniard had already explained what made Liverpool so strong, with their ability to adapt to situations and, now, play against both front-footed and deep-sitting sides, key.
“When you sit back and defence in the box they open up with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, and start to make crosses,” he said.
“When they arrive with not just Mane, Salah, Firmino, [but] Henderson with the right tempo, Wijnaldum and the second balls, it’s almost impossible to live with that situation.
“When you are able to get back from that position they have an incredible [defence].
“And when you are attacking, like we tried, every mistake you can do, transitions are the biggest quality of Jurgen from all of his career, in these types of situation, like the second goal.
“You decide before you play, do you stand 90 minutes back there, waiting [for] crosses, crosses, crosses, for one counter-attack, two counter-attacks if you are lucky, or try to play the game, create chances, like we created today?
“We decided to do it in that way, because it is the way we won two Premier Leagues in a row, seven trophies in two seasons, and sometimes the people say ‘we like to watch Manchester City play football’.
“So sometimes playing at home against some teams [it works], but if you come here and do it…
“I watch a lot of games. Teams that come here to play, they know how difficult it is.”
Guardiola was correct, though, to note that while a nine-point gap between Liverpool and City is “a lot,” it is only November and there are 26 more games to play.
The Reds certainly furthered their early claim to the Premier League title, however, and now City sit behind both Chelsea and Leicester in the table: fourth, having already lost just one fewer game than the whole of last season.