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Guardiola: why I pulled out De Bruyne at Anfield

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed the reason why he took off Kevin De Bruyne during their 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

The 32-year-old midfielder had an uncharacteristically quiet evening at Anfield, with the defending champions coming under intense pressure from Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Guardiola opted to shake things up after 69 minutes by replacing De Bruyne with Mateo Kovacic – and the Belgian appeared to be less than pleased with the change.

The pair were caught in animated exchange as De Bruyne made his way to take a seat on the bench and continued to display his annoyance in the minutes that followed.

Guardiola was asked about the incident after the match and said: ‘I’m happy to see that! I like it if he’s upset, it’s good. He’s happy now.

‘I knew what we were missing, we missed keeping the ball. After (he went off) we did it better. But, listen, Kevin… what can I say for Kevin… we need him and he is important.’

In a a pulsating encounter, Liverpool and Manchester City were inseparable and were made to share the points as Alexi Mac Allister’s second-half penalty cancelled out John Stones’ opener.

Guardiola described playing at Anfield against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team as ‘like a tsunami’, after the Reds flooded Manchester City with waves of chances in a 25-minute spell in the second half to stop the champions’ control on the game.

‘We started really well even before the goal and played with a huge personality,’ said the Catalan. ‘After the first half it was difficult because they have (Wataru) Endo and (Alexis) Mac Allister, so they have extra passers and quality to play whereas before was more direct.

‘In the second half, in that stadium… you don’t have time. We gave away the penalty and sooner or later, for 15 or 20 minutes, it feels like a tsunami! Oh my god, it’s coming for everybody, they have the ball and everything.

‘But after we had Mateo (Kovacic, a second-half substitute), especially when he came on, we could make extra passes. They are really strong in their pressing and counter-pressing, in this stadium it’s not easy. But never we stopped trying to play.

‘With Mateo and John (Stones) and Rodri, we then had the quality to play and keep the ball. We had our chances, they had their chances. We want to keep the ball but sometimes you can’t, but they are the best team I have ever seen in the pressing.’

The Anfield outfit are second-placed in the league, having the same points (64 points) with Arsenal but the latter are enjoying numerical strength on goals scored. City are third with 63 points, one point behind both Arsenal and Liverpool.

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