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Pep Guardiola has backed his players to perform on the pitch after refusing to get drawn into their war of words with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool defender has added spice to this weekend’s crunch Premier League title clash against Guardiola’s City by claiming that winning trophies means more to the Merseyside club.

City players Erling Haaland and Ruben Dias hit back by pointing out Alexander-Arnold has not won the treble – therefore suggesting he could not know how the Manchester club feel – but Guardiola does not want to add fuel to the fire.

Erling Haaland has hit back at Trent Alexander-Arnold
Erling Haaland has hit back at Trent Alexander-Arnold (Mike Egerton/PA)

Instead, he will simply encourage the champions to do their talking on the pitch in an encounter that could have a huge bearing on the destiny of the Premier League title.

The City manager said: “I’m so happy with my players, all the time, over many, many years.

“Do you think we’re not going to fight because Erling and Ruben talk? Without these talks we will not fight?

“We are there and, after what happened over the last years, we are going to try again tomorrow and do a good game.

“They defend the club not by responding to this guy but what they have done for many years on the pitch every three days. That is the best way.

“I could answer him (Alexander-Arnold), but why? It is what it is.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have done and I don’t need that to prove to me what my players really feel and are trying to do it.”

Guardiola was asked further about Alexander-Arnold’s comments as he held his pre-match press conference on Friday but simply wished the England international well.

Alexander-Arnold has been sidelined with a knee injury for the past month and is not expected to feature on Sunday.

He said: “I wish him well. I wish him a speedy recovery and to come back to the pitch as soon as possible.”

Jurgen Klopp wil lbe facing off against Guradiola for the 30th time
Jurgen Klopp wil lbe facing off against Guardiola for the 30th time (Mike Egerton/PA)

The match renews one of the great managerial rivalries of recent times as Guardiola comes up against Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, but what will be their 30th meeting could be the last for some time.

Klopp is standing down at Anfield at the end of the season and Guardiola has acknowledged the role the German has played in driving him on.

The Spaniard said: “From the way he makes his teams play football, you always learn. It was always a pleasure to play against him and it will be on Sunday too.”

Guardiola is not sure it will be the last time the pair face each other but, regardless, hopes they can meet socially at some stage in the future.

Guardiola has a rare losing record against Klopp, with 12 defeats and 11 victories against the Reds boss and added: “We might play in the FA Cup and, the future, nobody knows. He’s young, I’m young, so I don’t know.

“Sometimes (we meet) in the corridor before press conferences but when we were honoured in the Hall of Fame years ago we spent time with families but, in terms of lunch or dinners, it never happened.

“We have to decide who pays, that’s why we didn’t do it! I think it’s going to happen sooner or later, I would love it but we’ll see.”