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Guardiola urges City to strike early blow against Liverpool

Guardiola urges City to strike early blow against Liverpool

London: Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to prepare for the "incredible challenge" of battling Liverpool for the Premier League title by landing an early blow against their rivals in Sunday's Community Shield.

Guardiola's side pipped Liverpool to the Premier League by one point last season after a thrilling title race went down to the last day.

The two clubs renew their growing rivalry when they meet at Wembley in the annual curtain-raiser to the English top-flight season this weekend.

While City won an unprecedented English treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup last term, and are the bookmakers' favourites to win the title for a third successive year, Guardiola is well aware of the challenge likely to be posed by Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's men lost only once in the league last season -- at City -- and erased the frustration of failing to catch Guardiola's team by beating Tottenham to win the club's sixth European Cup in June.

Despite a spat between the pair this week when Guardiola hit back at Klopp's jibe over City's big spending on transfers in recent years, the Spaniard remains a huge admirer of the Liverpool boss and the team he has built at Anfield.

"He inspires me in many things. He is a class manager, a top manager. He's so good and it is an incredible challenge for me every time I face his teams," Guardiola said.

Guardiola's irritation at Klopp's suggestion that City are one of a handful of clubs who live in a transfer "fantasy land" lit the fuse on what promises to be a fascinating 10-month battle for supremacy between City and Liverpool.

With City yet to win the Champions League and Liverpool without an English title since 1990, it is possible they would gladly settle for a trophy-swap this season.

But Guardiola knows Community Shield holders City could become the first team to win three consecutive Premier League titles since Manchester United between 2006 and 2009, so he won't settle for only targeting European glory.

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