Pep Guardiola insists Man Utd are not Man City's biggest rivals

  • United will host City at Old Trafford on Sunday
  • Reigning champions City head into the game six points clear of United
  • Guardiola believes Liverpool & Arsenal are bigger threats to City
Guardiola's focus is on beating other sides
Guardiola's focus is on beating other sides / Joan Cros - Corbis/GettyImages

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists his side's biggest rivals are no longer Manchester United after the Cityzens established themselves as European heavyweights.

Sunday's Manchester derby promises to be one of the biggest fixtures of the season. City head into the game third in the Premier League table, six points clear of United, who have won just two of the last eight meetings between the rivals.

While Guardiola is well aware of the importance of the derby, he insisted that the bigger story for City has revolved around competing with Liverpool in recent years.

"There was one year with Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] that was quite close, but overall it has been Liverpool," said Guardiola. "When I finish my tenure here, Liverpool have been my rivals and our rivals.

"They have made us a challenge and helped make us a better team in all departments. They have challenged us like no other team has done in my period here.

"Of course, Arsenal are back and Newcastle have arrived and Chelsea are in the process to restructure a few things. Look at Spurs now, how good they are playing. They will be fresh all season because they are out of the Carabao Cup. They will be there, for sure, with the manager they have. But our rivals in the past have been Liverpool."

Peter Bankes, Erik ten Hag, Pep Guardiola
Guardiola will butt heads with Erik ten Hag again / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

When it was put to Guardiola that his dismissal of United as major title rivals bore a resemblance to former Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson's behaviour towards City during his time in charge, the Spaniard Ferguson was correct in his assessment.

"Sir Alex was right. City were not challengers," said Guardiola. "Without the presence of Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon [Al Mubarak], when they took over and made an investment, like when United and Arsenal were the richest clubs, we were not there.

"In that moment, Sir Alex Ferguson could not expect what has happened, even myself when I was in Barcelona thought the same.

"But now it’s the reality and we want to stay here for as long as possible. Maybe it is uncomfortable that we were not in the elite, but now we are in the elite and maybe it is uncomfortable for them. We are there now and we want to be there in the future."