Pep Guardiola says he always expected Liverpool to claw back Manchester City’s 14-point lead at the top as he prepares his side for a Premier League title match on Sunday.
City raced clear of their rivals over Christmas and New Year – at one point setting a 14-point cushion over Liverpool – but Jurgen Klopp’s side have used their games in hand and some dropped points from City to move to just a point behind the Blues.
Despite looking like City would run away with the title again, Guardiola insists that big lead wasn’t what it seems as he praised Liverpool for a comeback he knew they were capable of.
ALSO READ: Pep Guardiola has already hinted at Man City line up changes vs Liverpool
“What is sure in Liverpool and City in the last years, we raised the bar and raised the targets that the Premier League had before,” he said.
“The other teams realized they had to push more if they want to chase us. In the last five or six years, one year we were a little bit out, last year they had injuries and United was there. Both teams for 5-6 years we were there both teams, fighting.
“I’m going to tell you something: 14 points, it was fake. You were wrong. We played two more games [than Liverpool]. Fake. It was not a mistake. After analyzing the games we dropped points – Crystal Palace, especially Southampton – we were brilliant, more than brilliant.
“We were not effective, we were not clinical, but we were brilliant. We won 1-4 against Southampton in the FA Cup. We were miles away worse than the game where we drew 1-1 when we could’ve won 1- 4. But it’s football.
“But the way we played, the way we created chances in both games, the same at Crystal Palace – we were amazing the way we played, but it’s football.”
Guardiola has been keen to downplay the importance of Sunday’s fixture as a potential title decider, although he does admit that the eyes of the world will be on the Etihad as he compared the clash to his experiences at Barcelona.
He said: “When we were 14 points ahead of Liverpool even myself I could not believe it because I know the incredible opponent we have to face. One of the best teams in Europe.
“The reality is one point right now, this is the normal reality. It’s an honor to be there to fight to win the Premier League.
“I lived this situation when I was in Barcelona; always Madrid, sometimes Atletico, but normally Barcelona and [Real] Madrid. Here it’s always five / six teams, but in the last five years, two .. This is the reality in the Premier League. It shows the consistency and structure both teams had.
“I understand people talking about Liverpool. I’m pretty sure all the people will be watching that game. It will be two teams top of the league trying to win the Premier League.”
We want your views, Blues. You can become even more involved with our Man City coverage by signing up. This will unlock a whole host of things – including joining the comments and taking part in our special Q & As, where you can speak directly to our reporters about what’s happening at the Etihad Stadium this week and beyond.
Click here to get started.
Sign up to our City newsletter so you never miss an update from the Etihad Stadium this season.