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Pep Guardiola accuses ‘special talent’ Sadio Mane of diving

City boss stokes the flames ahead of top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accused Sadio Mane of diving after the Liverpool forward's match-winning display against Aston Villa in the English Premier League.

Mane scored the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time at Villa Park last Saturday, but only after being booked for simulation in the first half.

Guardiola's City remain six points behind leaders Liverpool after a comeback win of their own, beating Southampton 2-1 courtesy of a Kyle Walker goal in the 86th minute.

The Citizens had equalised only 16 minutes earlier via Sergio Aguero, after trailing from James Ward-Prowse's 13th-minute opener.

When asked whether he was aware of Liverpool's dramatic win, Guardiola told the BBC: "It has happened many times, what Liverpool have done, in the last few years, it's because (Mane) is a special talent.

"Sometimes he's diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute."

Mane has been in the spotlight in recent weeks after earning two penalties - against Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur last month - with Liverpool converting the spot-kicks to win both games.

City visit Anfield next Monday morning (Singapore time), where they have failed to win in the league since 2003, reported Reuters.

"If it's one time, two times, 'We were lucky, we were lucky'. But it happened in the last two seasons many, many times - they have a special character to do that," Guardiola said of Liverpool's ability to score late goals.

"We look at ourselves, we know which team we face, I think they have won 10 and drawn one."

Mane, meanwhile, said the Reds have "big respect" for Guardiola's team.

He told Liverpool's website: "We have big respect for Manchester City.

"They are a very good team but we are Liverpool and we are also a very good team.

VERY INTERESTING GAME

"I think it will be a very interesting game and we are looking forward to it."

Despite Liverpool potentially opening a nine-point gap if they beat the English champions, Walker insists the clash will not define the EPL title race.

The defender told the BBC: "There are still so many games to play in the Premier League.

"Obviously, a lot of people talk about the title race, but anything can happen in football, as you have just seen out there.

"We just need to keep doing our job, keep getting the three points and that's all we can do really."

While there is a six-point difference between City and Liverpool, Alan Shearer believes they are similar in the way that they are a threat right until the final whistle.

The EPL's all-time top goalscorer said on the BBC: "Good teams keep going. They wear you down, they have that belief.

"With the managers they have, both Pep and (Juergen) Klopp, they demand they keep going.

"It happened to Man United all those years ago, it's not a coincidence they scored all those late goals."

Liverpool fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, believes there is a relentlessness in the Reds stemming from missing out on the league title by just one point last season, despite racking up the third-highest points tally in EPL history.

He said: "Relentlessness is probably the main word in and around the camp at the minute.

"We want to keep winning games, gathering as many points as possible and winning more trophies...

"We saw last season that getting a big haul of points wasn't enough, so we still need to pick up as many points as possible."

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