EPL

Guardiola uninterested in Liverpool v Man Utd as Reds are so far clear

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Pep Guardiola feels it is pointless rooting for Manchester United at Anfield this weekend given Liverpool's huge advantage over Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten Reds host United - the only side to take points off them in the Premier League this season - on Sunday in a blockbuster encounter that is sure to be of interest to fans across the world.

Those of a City persuasion are in the unenviable position of knowing a victory for their cross-city rivals would be beneficial to Guardiola's side.

Yet, given the Reds would still be 11 points clear with a game in hand if they lose and City beat Crystal Palace at home on Saturday, Guardiola sees little point in even paying attention to how Liverpool are faring.

Asked whether he would be supporting United on Sunday, Guardiola replied: "Being so far away from [Liverpool], I think it's not interesting to look a little bit [at] what Liverpool does.

"It's better to focus on what we can improve for the rest of this season in all competitions, in the Premier League as well, and prepare the next one."

While they have not been able to gain on Liverpool given the relentless pace of Klopp's men, City have enjoyed an upturn in recent weeks, winning nine of their previous 10 games in all competitions.

Guardiola, who is under contract at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, has already stated he would like to stay on next season and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss stressed the only way he could depart is if the club sack him.

"Unless they sack me, I'm going to stay another year here," he added.

"I don't have to announce, I have a contract. I'm going to stay, 100 per cent.

"[Unless] they don't like it and say, 'We want to change the manager.' But for sure 100 per cent I'm going to stay here next season, not because we won the last two games, or the last month we are playing a little bit better.

"Even if it was going bad or not qualifying for the Champions League, I'm not going to give up.

"The managers have good moments and bad moments, not all the managers win all the time. In the bad times we can say we are bad because we've lost some games so what can we do to get better? So, it's simple."

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    The Portugal international was inspirational for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Sunday, scoring their first from the penalty spot and then having a hand in goals for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the Red Devils moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.

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    "This is the day every player wants to have," Fernandes said. "I had the luck to score and win the game. We all gave our best and gave an excellent game, finally my first win at home.

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    Fernandes aimed a friendly dig at team-mate Martial, who denied him an assist in the process of scoring United's second.

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    "Last week he said he never scores on my assist, but I think it's not my fault!"

    He added: "I just need to help the team. This is what I want to do and what I need to do."

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    Troy Deeney might have put Watford ahead after three minutes when Nemanja Matic and Harry Maguire allowed Victor Lindelof's blocked pass to run through to the Hornets captain, but he hesitated, and Luke Shaw dispossessed him just in time.

    Abdoulaye Doucoure hit the side-netting from a tight angle as Watford continued to prise open a faltering United defence and, when the hosts countered, Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed from 12 yards after Ben Foster parried Dan James' angled drive.

    The pace of the game slowed before exploding into life five minutes before half-time when Fernandes burst into the Watford box where Ben Foster sent him sprawling, and the Portuguese midfielder's hopping run-up and cool low finish put United ahead from the spot.

    Watford had the ball in the net five minutes after the restart when Maguire lashed it into the roof of his own net under pressure from Deeney, but Craig Dawson playing the ball with his arm in the build-up meant the goal was ruled out.

    Six minutes later, Fernandes turned provider, threading a pass through to Martial whose drag-back fooled Etienne Capoue before his immaculate chip saw him beat Foster at the second attempt.

    United's third was the pick of the goals, Greenwood starting a move that ended with Fernandes rolling the ball to him just inside the box and he cracked an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net off the frame of the goal.

    Solskjaer sent on Odion Ighalo for his home United debut against his former club and he hit the post six minutes from time but by then the game was comfortably won as hopes of a possible Champions League return continued to grow around Old Trafford.

     

    What does it mean?

    One win in three home league matches hardly feels like great form but United are just three points behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Watford, who are 19th, remain one point adrift of safety and still without a league win at Old Trafford in their history.

    Fernandes brings out United's best

    The arrival of Fernandes has given the likes of James and Greenwood a creative lynchpin and, after showing his finishing prowess, the 25-year-old brought the best out of Martial and Greenwood.

    Deeney made to rue early miss

    Sluggish and sloppy in the opening 20 minutes, Deeney eventually grew into the game but only after he had missed Watford's best chance of the game.

    What's next?

    Watford host champions elect Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday before United's trip to Everton on Sunday. The Red Devils are in Europa League action against Club Brugge at Old Trafford three days earlier.

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