Ilkay Gundogan has happy memories of winning a league title under Jurgen Klopp – but is determined to deny his old boss this year.
The Manchester City midfielder was part of Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side that won the second of two back-to-back Bundesliga crowns in 2012.
Gundogan is now in the position of trying to chase down a Klopp team as City, who applied pressure with a 3-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday, battle with Liverpool for the Premier League.
And the German can see similarities between Liverpool’s position at the top and that enjoyed by Dortmund seven years ago, particularly in terms of fixture congestion.
Liverpool this season no longer have any domestic knockout distractions while City are still competing in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, as well as the Champions League.
The 28-year-old said: “When you have to run in the season you don’t think about much things – you go out and play. When you have no concerns in your mind you are able to win a lot of times.
“That’s how I felt when we were able to win at Dortmund that title. We had an advantage of just playing Saturday, Saturday, Saturday and the week off in between.
“He (Klopp) is in a similar situation now with Liverpool – just the Premier League and then the Champions League on top. Maybe it’s going to be an advantage for them, I don’t know.
“It’s nothing we can change right now. They have to play their games and we have to play ours.
“We have to challenge ourselves, we want to win our games to be able to say we did everything to give our best.”
Having won the Premier League with Pep Guardiola’s City last season, Gundogan is in the rare position of having won titles under the managers of both leading title contenders.
“They are different in terms of playing style and their characters, but both of them are great people, great human beings that I really like,” said Gundogan.
City have a perceived advantage in the race of having triumphed last year, but they led from the front in that instance.
“I don’t believe it’s an advantage that we won last year because the way we won, it’s completely different,” said Gundogan. “We have to try to put pressure on them.”
City did their bit over the weekend by bouncing back from a surprise loss at Newcastle with a comfortable defeat of the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium, courtesy of a Sergio Aguero hat-trick.
The Argentinian struck after just 46 seconds and restored City’s lead after a Laurent Koscielny equaliser. His third just after the hour went in off his arm but it was deemed unintentional and there was no doubting City’s victory was deserved.
Looking ahead to this week’s games against Everton and Chelsea, Gundogan said: “We know that we are going into a crucial week for us in terms of our Premier League season.
“To start that well with that result against that team was very important and gives us a boost for the next two fixtures because they will also be very difficult.”
Defeat left Arsenal sixth.
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno told the club’s website: “I think we are still in a good position to go to the top four. We still have big games.
“We win many games at home but I think to go into the top four again we need more away wins.”
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