Pep Guardiola conceded he loves to watch Tottenham as a fan as Manchester City prepare to welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s in-form side to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Spurs are aiming for a seventh consecutive top-flight win – a streak that would represent their best in the Premier League era – against City, who are three points behind their second-place opponents in fifth following a chastening 4-0 loss at Everton last weekend.
Pochettino’s men beat West Brom commandingly by the same scoreline to establish themselves as the closest challengers to leaders Chelsea last time out and, as Guardiola continues the diligent work required to have City playing effectively and consistently in his chosen style, he marvelled at opponents performing comfortably and convincingly in their manager’s own image.
“He’s done a brilliant job,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss told a pre-match news conference when asked about Pochettino’s time at White Hart Lane.
“It is the third season there. They play how he wants. It is a really good team, strong physically, good build-up, good quality between the lines with [Christian] Eriksen and Dele Alli.
“Physical and technical full-backs with [Danny] Rose and [Kyle] Walker, you know them from the national team in England.
“It is a real good team. They play attractively. His [Pochettino’s] positional game is really good. With three at the back and the four at the back they use the perfect movements in the build-up with the goalkeeper.
“[Mousa] Dembele has the quality in holding midfield; one against one they attack, they can use long balls with [Harry] Kane and they arrive at the right tempo.
“They are really playing good. As a fan of football, I love to see them. His positional game is quite similar to Chelsea but they have some different movements.”
After a run of four wins and as many defeats from their past eight Premier League games, a list of stand-out performers in City’s line up does not trip so readily off the tongue.
Guardiola reiterated his stance that his squad cannot consider becoming champions at present, with a vast 10-point gap to Chelsea, and feels instant success at Barca and Bayern will inevitably colour analysis of his hitherto patchy return in Manchester.
“We already say goodbye to the title, depending on what they [the media] say. It is not going to depend on what happens [on Saturday].
“The expectations are what it is because of my past. What I can say is I am very happy in Manchester, feel very welcome and well treated and want to fight for everything.”
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