Henderson on Man City challenge: Liverpool have nothing but respect for them

Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2019-20
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The Reds captain is not discounting Chelsea and Leicester City from the title race as a vital Sunday encounter at Anfield looms

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has insisted that he and his team-mates have “nothing but respect” for Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp’s men, who have 10 wins from their first 11 league outings of the season, will play host to Pep Guardiola’s outfit on Sunday, with the opportunity to take a nine-point advantage over the Citizens in the standings.

It would represent a huge step towards the Anfield club securing their first Premier League title if they were to win, but Henderson knows the challenge from the two-time defending champions will be a stern one.

“If I was to pick just one word to sum up how we as a squad feel about Manchester City, it would simply be: ‘respect’,” he wrote in the club’s matchday programme.

“Of course they are an opponent we’ve had decent tussles with over the past couple of seasons in particular, both domestically and in Europe, but as a team here we have nothing but admiration for them.

“What they’ve achieved as a team is something that everyone in sport, let alone just football, can look at and appreciate. They are relentless winners who have found the hunger to go again and again.”

Although City edged the Reds to the title last season, the England midfielder says it is vital to appreciate their quality.

“I think it’s important for a healthy rivalry that you can recognise someone else’s qualities and achievements without that leading to any sort of insecurity about what you’re doing yourself,” he added.

“As an example, I’ve never understood it when ourselves and City are asked whether we’d sooner win the Premier League or the Champions League, or then subsequently asked to compare which is more important or impressive.

“I’d bet anything you like that you’d get the same answer in both dressing rooms, whether there was a microphone in front of them or not: we want to win everything.”

He does not believe, however, the race is restricted to just a couple of teams, also talking up Leicester and Chelsea, who sit second and third respectively heading into Sunday.

“Chelsea are unbelievably impressive at the moment and I can see them pushing both of us all the way in the Premier League and having a massive say in the cups. We’ve played them twice already, in the league and the Super Cup, and they definitely have the players and the approach to go all the way,” he warned.

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“Likewise, Leicester City who gave us such a tough contest at Anfield not that long ago. They still have players and staff who know from first-hand experience what it takes to do it and I haven’t seen many weaknesses in their set-up to suggest they won’t keep with the pace.

“Anyone who thinks this is about just two teams is wrong and in our dressing room we’re certainly not foolish enough to get caught in that trap.”

Liverpool head into Sunday’s match five points clear of Leicester in second.