Pep Guardiola says Manchester City do not have the quality to replicate Liverpool’s 5-0 victory over Manchester United when they face the Red Devils on Saturday.
Liverpool recorded their biggest ever margin of victory against United in last month’s contest thanks to Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick and goals from Nany Keita and Diogo Jota.
It also marked the first time United have lost by five or more goals without scoring since February 1955, when going down 5-0 to City.
United have a good recent record against City, however, having gone unbeaten against them in four league meetings – their best run since between 2008 and 2011 (six matches).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s four wins from eight encounters with Guardiola in all competitions, meanwhile, is the best win rate of any manager to have faced the Catalan coach at least five times (50 per cent).
Guardiola is expected to operate with the same 4-3-3 system used by Liverpool at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but he is not anticipating the same high-scoring outcome against United, who have since reverted from a three-man defence to a back four.
“We cannot play like they did. We do not have the quality to play like how Liverpool played,” he told reporters on Friday. “Football is not copy and paste.
“United made changes, adapted against Tottenham and it worked, but against Atalanta, after the injury to Raphael Varane they changed to a back four.
“They put on more strikers because they were losing. I know United’s style is when they are losing they put on a lot of strikers and when they are winning they put on defenders.”
Guardiola, whose side have failed to score in three of their 10 Premier League games this season, added: “If you want to do what Liverpool did then Jurgen Klopp has to come here and then [Sadio] Mane can come and Salah can come.
“We cannot play how Liverpool play because we have different players, different ways to play. I think if you see the last four, five or six years in the Premier League, the games when Liverpool have played City, we play differently.
“We are not going to do the same as they do. It would not be wise. We are going to try our way to play because we have completely different players, the quality in a different way.
“Maybe right now, United would play against Liverpool in a different way, I’m pretty sure about that, and maybe it would not be the result they had at Old Trafford, because everyone learns.
“The manager learns from the previous game what worked or didn’t work, and tries to fix it, that’s why we cannot do it, that’s normal.”
City suffered a shock 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace last time out in the Premier League, a result that leaves them five points behind leaders Chelsea with 10 games played.
The reigning English champions have lost three of their last four league clashes with United, as many as in the previous 16, and have failed to score in three successive meetings with them.
Guardiola acknowledged the importance of picking up a positive result on enemy territory this time around if City are to avoid losing further ground in the title race.
“We’re going to try to win the game,” he said. “We try to do it and afterwards we see what happens.
“I am not thinking about the calendar, how many points we are in front or behind. We know the quality of the contenders, we know how difficult our opponent is. We will just try to play.”