(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has declared his admiration for Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and expects a testing encounter when his team visit the Vitality Stadium in the Premier League on Monday.
City, who are owned by Arab billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, are at the opposite end of the financial spectrum to tiny Bournemouth, who were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2015.
Guardiola, however, said Howe’s team played with an honesty that made them tough opponents.
“Bournemouth start really well,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“Last few years, it’s outstanding what they have done. They are so aggressive. They are an honest team. They want to do something. They are fast guys to use the counter attack.
“Bournemouth is a tough, tough time. I admire my colleague (Howe) and think it will be a tough game.”
Bournemouth have fared well at home against the top teams this season, beating Liverpool and drawing with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
“I know what happened against Liverpool, Arsenal — big teams — it will be a tough game, I have no doubts about that,” Guardiola said.
City are third in the league with their squad having received a lift following the January signing of Brazil international Gabriel Jesus, who has scored three times in his last two games.
“Everyone is fit,” Guardiola said. “They are training amazingly. I am so happy to be here with these players. The only regret is I have players in the stand who cannot play.”
The manager also spoke warmly about Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm, who announced earlier this week that he will retire from football at the end of the season.
Guardiola coached Lahm, who captained Germany to World Cup success in 2014, for three seasons while the Spaniard was in charge of the Bundesliga champions.
“Philipp was and is a special person in my life,” Guardiola said. “It is not easy for a Catalan guy to go to Munich and learn the culture and he helped me a lot.
“He is one of the most fantastic players I ever trained in my life... I am a little sad because I feel he has football in his legs.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis