Pep Guardiola makes extraordinary Newcastle United claim

Pep Guardiola’s make an extraordinary claim about fourth-placed Newcastle United.

Eddie Howe’s side are fourth in the Premier League ahead of tomorrow’s game against Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium. And Guardiola – who last weekend said that Newcastle were “contenders” for a Champions League place – has claimed that the club is a threat to their hopes of a third successive domestic league title along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Liverpool.

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Eddie Howe’s team have the advantage of having less players away for the World Cup – and a less congested fixture schedule after the tournament.

"Newcastle have a good manager (Eddie Howe), and top-class players," said Guardiola. "I imagine they’re going to stay there for a long time.

"They have physicality in the middle, box-to-box transitions, and their intensity without the ball is impressive. Also, they’re not playing in Europe, which is a big advantage, because when you arrive in the last months, you have energy."

Howe was asked about Guardiola’s earlier “contenders” comment ahead of the Southampton game.

"I'd much rather people said nice things about us than not,” said Howe. “But I'm in control of that – and it doesn't really change anything.

Pep Guardiola reacts the 3-3 draw between his Manchester City team and Newcastle United in August.

"It's nice to hear people's opinions of us if they're positive, and, if they're not, that's up to them. It doesn't change anything about what we're doing. Only we can prove whether we're contenders or not – and we have to do on a weekly basis."

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United were 19th in the Premier League a year ago ahead of Howe’s appointment as head coach.