LONDON (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola is not surprised Tottenham Hotspur are Manchester City’s closest pursuers in the early Premier League title race having previously been out-witted by Mauricio Pochettino who he describes as one of the best managers in the world.
Leaders City will take their 100 percent record to White Hart Lane on Sunday but second-placed Tottenham are also unbeaten after six games and will be buoyed by having done the double over the Manchester side last season.
Former Barcelona coach Guardiola was still in charge at Bayern Munich then but knows Pochettino well from when the Argentine was in charge of Barca’s local rivals Espanyol.
Pochettino’s Espanyol beat Barcelona 2-1 at Nou Camp in 2009, their first win in the derby for 27 years.
“We played against each other as players then coaches and I don’t just think he’s one of the best managers in England, he’s one of the best in the world,” Guardiola, whose side drew 3-3 with Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday, told a news conference on Friday.
”There are similarities with Espanyol the way Spurs play. It was so aggressive (at Espanyol) there was high pressing and many things and still the way they played is quite similar.
”And the quality of the players at Tottenham is good.
”He’s doing an amazing job in London at Spurs. The way they play I like a lot - they’re aggressive and have a lot of quality. The basis of the team is the national team with (Dele) Alli, (Kyle) Walker, (Harry) Kane - they have a lot of quality.
“They’re in second position so it will be a tough game. We will try to do our job.”
Guardiola enjoys Tottenham’s pro-active style and their desire to play on the front foot.
“They want to create their own game. That’s why I like them,” he said, adding that he will send out his own side to try and seize the initiative.
City will be without injured Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph against Spurs but Guardiola says the international break will help ease the situation.
“We have 10 days which will help us - we need most of them back,” he said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond