Pep Guardiola has dismissed accusations that Man City instructed groundstaff to let the Etihad pitch grow longer for the visit of Liverpool.

City beat Liverpool 2-1 on Thursday thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane, closing the gap between themselves and the Reds to just four points at the top of the Premier League table.

Did Man City try to unhinge Liverpool’s gameplan? Five key things to know…

  1. Man City dispatched Liverpool 2-1 on Thursday to close the gap at the top of the Premier League to four points.
  2. The defending champions won courtesy of goals from Aguero and Sane, with Firmino scoring for the Reds.
  3. Certain corners of social media suggested City had intentionally left the grass long at the Etihad to disrupt Liverpool’s play.
  4. Guardiola has laughed off these allegations, claiming he wants his side ‘playing faster’ anyway.
  5. Both sides completed 76 passes in the attacking third during the game.

Following the victory, however, social media was rife with suggestions the Citizens had intentionally left the grass on the Etihad pitch longer than usual in an attempt to slow down passes between the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

But City boss Guardiola has now laughed off these claims, insisting that he wants his side to ‘play quicker’ as well.

“I never did, if Liverpool want to play quick, we want to play quicker, so we never manipulated,” the Catalan told reporters at a press conference. “Normally when this kind of thing happens, always at the end, karma or something like that, punishes you.

“I trust the greenkeepers, but we put the grass in the best conditions for both teams. Never I made a phone call to one to say, ‘Do this kind of thing to damage our opponents’.”

‘Man City prefer to compete on all four fronts’

A heavily rotated Liverpool side crashed out of the FA Cup at the third round stage against Wolves on Monday, City’s 7-0 win over Rotherham ensures that Guardiola’s side are still competing in all four competitions this season.

And the former Barcelona boss, who fielded the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling against the Millers on Sunday, insisted he would much rather be involved in all four tournaments, rather than going out as Liverpool have done.

Last season’s League Cup winning manager added: “I don’t know [if fewer games gives Liverpool an advantage] – I don’t have a theory from my experience about that.

“If everyone is fit and not injured we can cope with it. The problem is if you have 10 injured players, then it’s almost impossible.

“I prefer it [being involved in four competitions], definitely. I like to be in the four competitions as far as possible. When Wigan put us out of the FA Cup last season I was sad. I take the cups seriously.

“I’m not involved in what my opponents do. The reality for Jurgen [Klopp] is he knows exactly what happened.

“Of course you need a big squad – without quality, you can’t even win one trophy. With the quality and amount of players we have, you can do it, because the team is always stable.”

City’s next Premier League game is at home to Wolves on Monday night.

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