Manchester City and Liverpool have finished as the Premier League’s top two in three of the last four seasons, and despite the Reds’ poor start to 2022-23, Pep Guardiola expects a fierce test in Sunday’s head-to-head meeting.

Liverpool are already 13 points behind City in the Premier League table – albeit with a game in hand, with the scintillating form of Erling Haaland leading Guardiola’s champions to a strong start.

But after watching Liverpool come within two games of a historic quadruple last season, Guardiola is refusing to take anything for granted, saying: “Liverpool is important because of the quality they have.

“Liverpool were going for a prestigious achievement of four titles. For two little details, they didn’t achieve what no English team has done.

“I pay zero attention to them being in a good moment or bad moment. They know in the last years, we have fought for most of the competitions and titles, and it’s been really close.

“We were a bit better, especially in the Premier League, but nothing changes what I feel about Liverpool.”

Guardiola’s counterpart Jurgen Klopp, however, has dismissed talk his team could still challenge for the title following a poor run of form.

Liverpool’s return of 10 points is their worst after eight games of a Premier League season since 2012-13 (nine), leading Klopp to say: “It could be [a title decider] this year… just not with us!

“When you play City, the results left and right are not really important. This game requires all your focus, requires all the things you know about football.

“They are, at the moment, definitely the best football team in the world, that’s how it is.

“But we will give it a try anyway, knowing there are no guarantees. We get help from a full Anfield and we try to use that.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Liverpool – Mohamed Salah

Salah has scored in four of his five Premier League home games for Liverpool against City, including the last three in a row. Only Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (between December 2000 and December 2004) has ever scored in four consecutive home appearances against the Citizens in the competition – could the Egypt winger replicate that feat?

Manchester City – Phil Foden

Foden has scored in his two Premier League away games against Liverpool; only two visiting players have ever scored in three consecutive appearances at Anfield in the competition – Andrew Cole (1999-2002) and Christian Benteke (2012-2017). Having signed a new contract on Friday, could the England international celebrate with another goal on Merseyside?

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Liverpool are winless in their last five Premier League games against Manchester City (D3 L2) – they have never gone six without a win against the Citizens in their league history.

– Liverpool have won 22 Premier League games against reigning champions, six more than any other side. The Reds are unbeaten in their last 13 such home games (W7 D6) since suffering a 1-0 loss to Manchester United in December 2007.

– Manchester City have lost just one of their last 37 Premier League games, and are unbeaten in their last 21 (W16 D5). Away from home, the Citizens are unbeaten in 22 Premier League games (W16 D6), the fourth longest such run in the competition’s history.

– Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has played in nine Premier League games to date, but nonetheless already holds the record for most goals (15) and most goal involvements (18) in a player’s first 10 appearances in the competition. The most goals a player has scored over any 10-game stretch in the competition is 16 by Luis Suarez for Liverpool between October-December 2013.

– Liverpool have scored at least twice in each of their last four meetings with Manchester City in all competitions (W2 D2) – no team has ever scored at least twice in five consecutive games against a side managed by Pep Guardiola before.