Newcastle are Premier League title rivals – Pep Guardiola

Eddie Howe (right) led his Newcastle side to a 3-3 draw against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at St James’ Park in August.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said Newcastle are one of six teams that threaten his side’s third consecutive Premier League title.

City are well placed to become the fifth English club – behind Arsenal, Huddersfield, Liverpool and Manchester United – to achieve the feat.

A win over Fulham this weekend would put City back on top, ahead of Arsenal, for at least 24 hours.

However, Guardiola said that he does not take anything for granted.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss says he still sees title rivals everywhere, including Liverpool, who are 13 points behind City, and Newcastle.

Newcastle are fourth in the Premier League, just over a year after taking over the sponsorship of Saudi Arabia.

However, under Eddie Howe they have exceeded expectations and benefited from not being distracted by European competition.

“Newcastle have a good coach and top players,” said Guardiola. “I can see that they will be there for a long time.

“They have physicality in the middle, box-to-box transitions and their intensity without the ball is impressive.

“Also, they are not playing in Europe, which is a big advantage because when you arrive in the last few months you have energy.”

Guardiola says Arsenal are the “front-runners” to win the title because the Gunners are at the top, then listed Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool as additional contenders.

Despite being hammered at the Etihad Stadium last month, Guardiola believes Manchester United have taken “a step forward”, along with Tottenham, who City are yet to play.

And the Blues boss is not ruling out Liverpool, although Jurgen Klopp’s Reds counterparts have already done so.

“They have the same coach and team that were able to win 18 games in a row. Why can’t they do it again?” said Guardiola.

“This is my feeling. Nobody knows what will happen after the World Cup, there is a transfer window and players are coming back.”

Pepe’s sarcastic response to the Zlatan jibe

Guardiola’s difficult relationship with veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who worked at Barcelona, ​​resurfaced at the City manager’s press conference on Friday.

The Swede was one of the few high-profile players who did not respond to the Catalan’s strict training methods and Ibrahimovic has repeatedly said he felt Guardiola could not handle his personality.

It was an assertion Ibrahimovic repeated in an interview with French television channel Canal+, when he said Erling Haaland’s problems will only come if Guardiola feels the Norwegian’s ego is bigger than his own.

Asked about Ibrahimovic’s recent comments, the City manager responded with a brand of sarcasm.

“He is absolutely right,” he said. “In this club my ego is more than anyone. I don’t like it when Erling scores three goals. I’m very jealous.

“Afterwards I said ‘don’t score any more goals’ because I just want the newspapers to talk about me. They know me perfectly. My ego is a well…”.

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