Jürgen Klopp has spoken of the need for everybody of a Liverpool persuasion inside Anfield on Sunday to be in an 'absolutely top shape' for the visit of Manchester City.

The Premier League's top two sides meet for the first time in the competition this term following last season's nip-and-tuck battle for the title.

The Reds boss previewed the high-profile showdown by detailing the strength of the reigning champions, while also outlining the development of his own team in the last few years.

Read on for a summary of Klopp's pre-match press conference...

On how the rivalry with City sits in terms of magnitude…

From a sports point of view, it’s getting bigger and bigger. I am here for four years, so what can I say about traditions? If you speak about 50 or 60 years ago it could then be probably completely different, I don’t know exactly. But it’s not important. We live now and obviously Man City is a pretty good football team and that means, of course, there’s a rivalry. Thank God there is a rivalry because that means we are not in bad place as well.

On whether Raheem Sterling is a bigger threat than before…

He was always a big threat. I don’t want to judge this. It looks like [he is] improving and improving and improving. Good for Man City and good for England. This morning I saw a goal he scored against Man City when he was still a Liverpool player – it was a nice one. Obviously he was already a big talent at that time. A fantastic footballer player; I can say absolutely nothing bad about him, I don’t think anything bad about him. He is outstanding and yes, improving in the last couple of years. I heard Pep saying once, ‘OK, if he starts finishing off all the situations he has, he will really be there.’ But he is a threat, how you can imagine. But not the only one, unfortunately, that’s the problem we have.

On whether he believes the two meetings with City will decide the league title…

I don’t know. I really have no idea. In the last, I would say, nearly two years, it feels like each game we play is the most decisive of the season. There’s not one where anybody said, ‘Oh, you can lose that’. First, we were fighting for qualifying for the Champions League, then trying to win the title and trying to go to the final again. The year before, trying to go for the final and fighting for the Champions League [qualification]. Nothing changes. You cannot make games bigger than they are already. It’s a very important game. A very, very important game. But we cannot make it more important than very, very important.

It’s a big game, two really good teams face each other. The best news is it’s at Anfield, which is really cool. Floodlights, which is really cool. Everything is prepared for a good football game. It will be a good football game, I’m not sure for whom. Is it for coaches from a tactical point of view, is it for supporters from a spectacular point of view? We will see. But everything is on a plate, nobody hides anything. We both try to deny the strengths of the other, which we have to do.

You cannot be only offensive. But if you are not brave against Man City then you have no chance, not even for a point, so we have to be brave as well. You have to create. Your positioning must be nearly perfect, protection must be perfect. Movements, different ideas. It’s really a lot in a game like this and in the end it’s possible that it will be a 0-0 like it was here last year, but still with all the things again because that’s football as well. We really try to adapt to the things the opponent is doing usually and try to make sure they cannot do that. That can always lead then to other things – like, you cannot be as creative, you cannot be as offensive. We all know, for being offensive you need a different formation and if you have this formation and you lose the ball, the other team can use that. Interesting football game.

On his relationship with Pep Guardiola... 

During a game is during a game, there's nobody out there to give any friendship requests or whatever. We support our team with all we can do. From time to time there are little discussions, but I cannot even remember proper discussions on the sideline. I couldn't respect him more, it's not possible. For me, he is the best manager in the world and wherever he was he had a proper impact on his team. Wherever he was and you can see when he is not there anymore the football looks differently, that is something. But now he is at Man City and he's not too bad. I have with nobody kind of a negative relationship on the touchline with other managers because most of them I don't know good enough. With Pep it looks quite different because we meet each other pretty often! But apart from that, it's good, it's very respectful from my side. I would say nothing else about it. 

On last season's 0-0 draw at Anfield and whether he expects a similar cautious approach...  

You can see it as a compliment, but it's, for sure, not meant as a compliment! It's just a game plan. The last three games – I'm not sure if it's in the right row – but we played 0-0 at home when they had a penalty pretty late. Then we lost 2-1 at the Etihad, where we scored nearly a goal for 11 millimetres or whatever the ball was not in. We lost 2-1 but it was a good game, an open game. Then the last one was a draw in the Community Shield when we lost the penalty shootout obviously. Good moments for one team. Maybe Man City started better in the Community Shield and we, for sure, had the better last part of the game and stuff like this. For us, it's just a good sign in this specific game that we can come closer to them. It's an important part of our development. There were games which we won when City had much more of the game than we had, but we scored the goals in the right moments. The result is the thing that stays in your mind but the games were really good. 

For us, as a team, our plan had to be – it's always like it is – if you want to climb a little bit in the table, you have to come closer to top spot, and that's where City is or was. That's what we did – we came closer, that's all. But at the end, we drew once and lost twice in the last three games, that's how it is. But for us the improvements the boys made is still obvious. I'm fine with that, but it's nothing to do really with the game on Sunday. We have to play our best game, everybody in the stadium has to be in an absolutely top shape. The guys who sell the hot dogs have to be in a top shape! Everybody has to, from the first second, come early in the stadium, go inside, nothing to do outside, wait for the team for warming up, all that stuff. That's what I wish for – that before we know if we get something for it, that we invest already all our emotions before the game. 

On whether he's noticed a change in City since last season...

Obviously we all have problems, they have problems of course. Last year, I'm not sure if Kevin De Bruyne was part of the games. One of the best players in the world not being part of this game and still getting results, that shows actually the quality of Man City. No, they are still really strong. Look, when I say I couldn't have more respect for Pep or for them, it's the truth. But do I like talking about Man City constantly? No, because we have our own situation and I'm more than happy with what we did in the last couple of years. But getting 100 points, getting 98 points, they still look greedy to get everything out of that season, so that's really a big strength. We all have to deal in the specific situation with injuries, with setbacks and they obviously did pretty well. It's not about comparing the team from last year with this year, so it's about how do they deal with the situation. That's quite impressive. I don't think too much about the City team of the last years, I thought a lot about the City team they have at the moment – and that's good enough for a proper game.

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