Pep Guardiola backs Manchester City to be ready for Premier League defence

Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will challenge for the title despite the attritional effort required to be champions in four of the past five years.

Guardiola’s squad has a core of 12 players who have all been part of at least three triumphant teams since the 2016-17 campaign: Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne, Rúben Dias, John Stones, Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, João Cancelo, Ilkay Gündogan, Rodri, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.

The manager has previously praised their ability to maintain the mental and physical edge to achieve this. Given that the 12 players remain at City, Guardiola was asked what made him sure they can again compete.

“There is no reason not to be confident,” he said. “No reason. What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League but the [domestic] cups and Europe [says it all]. I don’t know what will happen this season but I’m sure I know these guys. I have no doubts for one second.”

City lost the Community Shield 3-1 to Liverpool on Saturday but Guardiola is not concerned before the league visit to West Ham next Sunday. “We lost a final we would’ve preferred to win but respect to the opponent. We know the standards and how to reach these, maintaining them as always,” he said.

“We are closer [to being ready]. Days ago we played against Bayern and did a very good performance and against Liverpool we did very good things. I don’t feel that we are far away.

“But the end of the pitch [attack and defence] will dictate what happens against West Ham and Bournemouth. It will dictate our level. There are processes that will not be perfect, and that we will have to correct, and we will improve.”

Of City’s rivalry with Liverpool, Guardiola said: “It’s happened in the past years and especially because of the games that both sides provoke. Both make actions in the counterattacks and I’m pretty sure it will continue. There are many, many teams in the Premier League that can reach this level – the consistency we’ve had in the previous seasons.”

While Erling Haaland failed to score against Liverpool another debutant, Julián Álvarez, registered City’s consolation goal. Guardiola’s other new signing, Kalvin Phillips, was an unused substitute.

“He has confidence – he’s ready to play,” the manager said of the midfielder. “He only arrived three weeks ago and we have Rodri, Bernard [Silva] and Gündogan who know our play already. But step by step he will get it. In many games he is going to help us.”