(Reuters) - Manager Ronald Koeman has praised Pep Guardiola’s impact at Premier League leaders Manchester City, but says his Everton team can exploit the Spaniard’s “risky” playing style when they travel to the Etihad stadium on Saturday.
City dropped their first points this season when they were beaten away at Tottenham Hotspur in their last match, and Koeman is confident Everton can use the space left by Guardiola’s high-press tactics to their advantage.
“I see a lot in the teams managed by Pep... Dutch football,” Koeman told reporters on Thursday.
“I like that because that’s the most difficult way to win, to play offensive football, sometimes risky, and to win titles.
“That’s difficult to defend but we have examples of other teams who have gotten results against them.
“Sometimes it is difficult because they are playing with a lot of space behind them at the back. If we can break that we can make it difficult.”
City won their first 10 matches of the season in all competitions before drawing 3-3 at Celtic in the Champions League in September and slumping to a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.
Koeman, however, praised Guardiola’s instant impact at the club and spoke of his respect for his former team mate, who along with the Dutchman was part of Johan Cruyff’s all-conquering “dream team” at Barcelona in the early 1990s.
“We are really strong friends and now it’s a little more easy because he lives in Manchester and I live close. Sometimes we have time to have dinner,” Koeman said, adding he was particularly impressed by City’s 4-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in their Champions League game last month.
“I watched City against Gladbach and it’s a very good job to see the difference between how they play this season and how they play last season,” he said.
Everton are fifth in the table and a win would lift them above fourth-placed Liverpool, at least temporarily, as their Merseyside rivals play Manchester United on Monday.
Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis