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Pep Guardiola bills Antonio Conte as one of the best coaches in the world
Pep Guardiola has billed Antonio Conte as one of the best coaches in the world as the pair clash for the first time this weekend.
Manchester City boss Guardiola, a serial winner in his time with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, has never come up against the new Chelsea manager, whose previous jobs include Juventus and Italy.
That will end as City host the Premier League leaders in an eagerly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
With both managers having made an immediate impact since arriving in England in the summer, the battle on the touchline will be an intriguing aside to the main contest.
Guardiola, speaking at his pre-match press conference, said: "Conte is without doubt one of the best coaches in the world right now, maybe the best.
"His statistics, his numbers, the way they play, are really good. It is the first time we are going to face each other and it's good to play against him.
"He did an exceptional job in Turin with Juventus and with the national team. It doesn't matter if it is Siena, Juventus, the national team or now Chelsea, you realise the strengths in his teams.
"He started here with maybe not good results but they have won their last seven games, conceding one goal. That says a lot about how good they are.
"They were contenders to win the Premier League from the beginning but now, maybe more than before. It's a good test for us.
"We are going to take them on with ambition and see what we can do to win the game."
City have no fresh injury concerns.
Captain Vincent Kompany is the only notable absentee after being ruled for about another month with a knee injury.
Midfielder Fabian Delph has not played since August but is training and nearing a return after a groin operation.
Conte expressed regret that Kevin de Bruyne will be turning out in the light blue of City rather than the royal blue of Chelsea.
The 25-year-old Belgium playmaker was offloaded in January 2014 after being a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho before thriving at Wolfsburg.
City signed him for B#55million after 18 months in the Bundesliga and De Bruyne will be in opposition when Conte's side face a stern test of their title credentials.
"I think he's a really great player. It's a pity that now he's playing for another team," Conte said.
"I wish for him the best, (but) after our game."
On Guardiola, Conte said: "I think he's a fantastic manager and he's doing fantastic work with Manchester City.
"When you see this team, I recognise an idea of football. Tomorrow for us, it'll be a very tough test.
"I don't remember if we played against (each other). He was a fantastic midfielder. We had different characteristics.
"He was more a pivot in front of the defensive line. Me, I was more offensive with penetration.
"I think that I ran more than him. But he thought more than me, with the ball.
"Two good players in their career won a lot and also lost a lot for me. I won a lot, but I lost a lot of finals."
Chelsea could name the same starting XI for the seventh successive Premier League game.
Conte said there were doubts over one or two players, but declined to disclose their names ahead of his side's bid for an eighth successive win.
Captain John Terry has been ruled out for two to three weeks with a buttock injury.