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Pep Guardiola previews the big match

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However, John Stones is fit to play despite suffering a blow to the knee in the win over Hull City on Boxing Day and Sergio Aguero, the club’s top scorer, will also return after a four-game absence through suspension.

Sane has failed to recover from the knock that saw him miss the last game, while Kompany remains sidelined with a knee problem he picked up in the win at Crystal Palace in November.

“John is much, much better,” Guardiola said. “Vincent and Leroy I think will not be available to play.

“Aguero is ready - he came back good from Argentina. Finally, he came back after four games ban and we are happy he is back.”

City are currently third in the table, a point behind Liverpool and seven adrift of leaders Chelsea – but have been buoyed by three straight victories, including a superb comeback against Arsenal and a convincing 3-0 win away at Hull three days ago.

Guardiola believes the title race will be tight and says Liverpool, who he saw play in their recent win over Stoke City, are definite title contenders. 

“Yes, they [Liverpool] are a contender, definitely,” he said. “It was a good game [Liverpool vs Stoke].

"I was lucky enough to play against Jurgen Klopp, we know each other well.

“I saw Liverpool this year many times and I was off, my family were not here – thank you Liverpool for the tickets – so I saw the game. 

“Six teams are fighting for the title, especially for the next Champions League qualification.

“All the contenders are really tough teams. It will be a good fight until the end of the season.”