Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool will continue to be Manchester City’s main rivals this season.
The Merseysiders are 13 points behind City ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match between the two teams at Anfield on Sunday.
Last season, Jurgen Klopp’s men broke away from the title by just one point, and Guardiola does not think that the current 10th place of the Reds reflects their abilities.
Asked if Liverpool were still the main rival, Guardiola, whose team is currently inferior to Arsenal, said at a press conference: “It always has been, always is and always will be. I know what their quality and character is.
“If I answered this question with five or 10 games left, I would say that Liverpool will not be able to come out on top in the league — in this case Arsenal — but in the position we are in, and given that the World Cup still to come, anything can happen.
“My opinion about this team does not change because of their position in the table for a single second. It’s always been difficult since we got together, so it’s a tough game.
“The game will be determined by what happens on the pitch, not by what we are ahead or behind.”
Last season, City played two pulsating 2-2 draws with Liverpool in the Premier League, but in the last two meetings they lost second best: in the FA Cup semi-final in April and at the Community Shield in July.
Guardiola said: “I always had the feeling that we behaved very well at Anfield.
“Maybe in the last two games we were a little soft, in different circumstances, but you have to behave at the highest level with the ball and especially without it, be active on the second balls and much, much more.
“But at Anfield, regardless of victory or defeat, we always behaved very individually. One of the biggest and most beautiful (stadiums) is the joy of being there and being part of this kind of game.”
Guardiola expects Erling Haaland to be fit and ready for the clash.
The Norwegian, who scored 20 goals in 13 matches for City, rested before the Champions League match in midweek with Copenhagen, and Guardiola said he was tired.
Guardiola said: “He is tired, as are Bernardo and others, but they are feeling good and ready for Sunday.”