PREMIER LEAGUE

Guardiola focused on improving Manchester City rather than chasing Liverpool

Manchester City, not Premier League leaders Liverpool, dominate Pep Guardiola's thoughts almost 24 hours a day, every day, the Spanish coach affirms.

Guardiola focused on improving Man City rather than 'extraordinary' Liverpool

Pep Guardiola has admitted that Premier League rivals Liverpool are "an extraordinary side", but insists that he is more focused on improving Manchester City than worrying about Jürgen Klopp's team.

City have lifted the league for the past two seasons under Guardiola and yet they now find themselves trailing Liverpool by 16 points and having played a game more. If Liverpool win their game in hand (against West Ham), that lead will stretch to 19 points; no team has ever surrendered such a large advantage at this stage of the season. The Reds have dropped just two points all season - after drawing at Old Trafford in October, but Guardiola would prefer to focus on how the defending champions can raise their game.

We have to focus on ourselves, no one else - Guardiola

"In terms of what we are as a team, we are open, we accept," he told a news conference before facing Sheffield United on Tuesday. "We cannot deny it - the Liverpool team is extraordinary in terms of football, in terms of results. But every day I live almost 24 hours thinking about my team and what we are, what we are doing, what we can do better. I'm not too much distracted by other teams in other leagues or, in this case, Liverpool."

Agüero!

Manchester City: 64 goals scored, 27 conceded

City have scored more league goals than any other team in the division this season, yet they have also conceded more than Sheffield United and last Saturday's opponents Crystal Palace, who claimed a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium.

"We concede few, but the opponents score goals from a few chances," Guardiola said. "That is difficult to solve. We have to improve in this area. We have scored I don't know how many more goals than Liverpool [12], so our way is good. I don't have the statistics here, but I don't think we concede more chances in one game. From the few, we concede goals that we shouldn't and drop points. You start from Tottenham in the first game, they shoot twice in the half on target and score two goals. Norwich shoot three times and score three goals. When this happens, it's difficult to fight against this Liverpool. We have to improve in this area."

Guardiola confirmed that John Stones and Benjamin Mendy had knocks following the weekend draw, although he was not yet sure if the issues would keep them out against the Blades. The Spaniard felt criticism of Stones after the Palace game, in which he appeared to struggle against Wilfried Zaha, was harsh. "It was unfair, yeah," he said. "We are there, I am there. Ups and downs in the career, the football manager always has to be strong. We know his quality."