We don't go to Manchester City as favourites, insists Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp ahead of Sunday's showdown

Jürgen Klopp has warned that Liverpool should not go into Sunday's clash with Manchester City with the mindset of favourites, despite their phenomenal record against the Premier League's top-six.

The Reds are unbeaten in their nine other games against the top-flight 'big clubs' so far this season, having beaten City 1-0 on New Year's Eve at Anfield.

Indeed, Liverpool have lost just one of 15 games against City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur under Klopp - a smash-and-grab 1-0 defeat against arch-rivals United in January 2016.

They face Pep Guardiola's men after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Monaco on away goals in mid-week, while they remain 10 points behind league leaders - and champions elect - Chelsea.

Liverpool find themselves only a point behind City, though they have an extra game in hand, but can leapfrog their top-four rivals with victory at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.

Regardless, City's attacking riches - and the quality of their manager - means they cannot be underestimated in Klopp's point of view, instead saying that they are even the most difficult team in England to play against.

We're not favourites against this City side

Questioned about Liverpool's record against the bigger sides in the league in his pre-match press conference, Klopp said: "I thought we had a few other games in which we were much better than these games, but in this kind of defending, not letting them do what they like to do, what they're used to doing - yes, we have some ideas, if you want."

The German explained that these games were "always really hard work" and not just "a kind of genius whatever", insisting that his players had to "win all the decisive challenges" because to have lose them would have meant "it really hurts."

"Yes, we felt so far good in these games but for me, City are the most difficult team to play," Klopp continued - acknowledging that while "the image in this moment in this country is a little bit different", City play "real football" which makes it "difficult to defend them."

He said that "a lot of teams felt that already" in the Premier League, though admitted "there are a few spaces" which their opponents "can use" when they "win the ball", adding: "We know what we have to do there. If we can do it, I don't know in this second, but we will try everything to do the right things and then it could be a fantastic game to watch. That's good news."

The Reds boss also insisted that, while Liverpool can move above City in the league table with three points on Sunday, it does not make it a necessarily more important fixture.

"These games are always important," he said. "Actually, I can't remember a not-important game in the Premier League, to be honest."

Though Klopp did acknowledge that everyone knows "about the quality of Manchester City" and declared that the "way they played was quite impressive" against an "unbelievably skilled" Monaco, although they were knocked out.

He explained: "City could've won easily in the second-half of the last game [the second leg] but because they're human beings, they missed a few chances too many so they're out, and that's it. But the quality is really high. They're in a good moment in the league. I don't think we go there as favourites and that's a role that's not too bad."

Klopp said that Liverpool are aware it "can be difficult to play in games like this" against top opposition, but said they "have to be at our best to get anything" because "they are strong, they are good and if you get a little bit passive, they play you around."

Klopp wary of putting 'extra pressure' on this clash despite top-four permutations

Yet the 49-year-old insists he is "really looking forward" to what he believes will be "a real challenge" tactically, because "two good sides face each other."

But despite the fixture coming at "an important moment" of the season, Klopp doesn't think "this kind of pressure" should be involved in the game itself, adding: "If we win we are two points ahead but they have one game less. So if we don't win, it's four points [behind them] so it would be better if we win.

He stated: "But if you go to Manchester City and you have to win, that's really difficult, but I think we go there and know that it's possible that we [can] win and possible it's a draw. I think it makes sense to see it as a real opportunity and not to push some special pressure on it."

Klopp also rejected the suggestion that now is a good time to face City, so soon after their exit from Europe - as he cited Guardiola's post-match comments that the Citizens "have to learn from" being eliminated.

"That's the only thing you can do after a game like this," he said, insisting City were involved in "two really spectacular games" against a Monaco team both "really flying" and "full of confidence" in the league and in the Champions League.

He thought that City's changes "were really good" but praised how their Ligue 1 opponents "always had an answer", adding: "City have changed a few things, with [Raheem] Sterling playing more consistently on the wing and it's really good to watch, I have to say. It's a real challenge to play against them."

Klopp acknowledged that he doesn't know Guardiola's charges "good enough" to know "which mood they are [in] now" or "what it meant to them" to be knocked out of Europe, insisting he is "more interested" in what mood Liverpool "go there in" and what they can "do there."

"We should concentrate on the football side," he said. "I don't think they will still be disappointed. I think more they'll want to strike back, but that makes no difference to us."

Klopp: I've no doubt over Guardiola's quality

City boss Guardiola has come under question for his failure - so far - to replicate the kind of success he enjoyed at previous clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where he won a combined 21 trophies.

He won 10 successive games in all competitions to spectacularly kickstart his spell in East Manchester, but has since seen the club's title charge fall away while their only remaining hope of silverware this term is the FA Cup.

His attractive passing style-of-play has also come in for criticism, with City's lacklustre defence having proved vulnerable - particularly to sides that have pressed them high up the pitch.

Yet Klopp believes there are plenty of positives to take for City, declaring that "the consolation" with this squad and Guardiola's Barcelona tenure serves as "the perfect role model for a win-win situation."

Klopp explained that City "have all these players who can obviously fulfil all the plans you have" which he believes is both "fantastic and an outstanding combination."

He said: "People who know more about Bayern would say that's another really good generation they had there, good players in the best age and then this world-class manager there. But there was not a second team in Germany - we [Borussia Dortmund] tried to be it as hard as possible but different reasons it was not possible. Coming here, that's a big difference [to the Bundesliga]."

Klopp called the Premier League the "most difficult league in the world" because of the fact "a lot of teams have a lot of money" and also "have a lot of good players" which makes it "really difficult to be a champion in England."

He also said that "the result is everything" which he feels is more the case in the English top-flight "than in other countries", insisting "nobody cares how you get the result" while "in other countries it's different" and that "with a few styles of play you would play with the stadium empty."

"If you defend with 10 players in the box with perfect defending, that's different too, it's allowed, it's all good," Klopp continued, insisting that Guardiola "has to adapt to it" while admitting he and Liverpool still "have to adapt to it" and sometimes "have to do it, in different games."

He declared that while everything is "legal", the culture is "obviously different" and also insisted that he is "not in doubt" about Guardiola's "quality" - saying: "Maybe a few other people are, I am not. I respect him really a lot and I played him a lot. I can say it's quite difficult to play his teams."

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