Talk of Manchester City winning the Premier League title this season has intensified following the resounding victory at Anfield. City’s win over Liverpool appears to have extinguished the Reds’ hopes of retaining a title they won in commanding fashion last term.
Now 10 points behind City despite playing a game more, it is difficult to see any way back into the race for Jurgen Klopp’s side. But there are still other teams to contend with. All of Manchester United, Leicester, Chelsea and even Tottenham still have a chance of rising to the league’s summit. All it takes for that to happen is a string of poor results from some teams including City.
Cross city rivals Manchester United have been somewhat of a surprise package this term. The Red Devils were not expected to be in the title conversation based on their performance last season.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought out the best from his team irrespective of the occasional bad result. That has propelled them to second place on the table, five points behind City. Leicester are a further two points away in third with Liverpool and Chelsea sitting fourth and fifth.
City hold a game in hand over all these teams. Yet, Guardiola is not taking anything for granted. As far as the Catalan boss is concerned, talk of winning the title at this point is far-fetched. The players will need to be on guard knowing anything can still happen. In fact, City are no champions yet and need to fight tooth and nail to achieve success at the end of the season.
“Two or three months ago we were out of everything: we didn’t have any chance to be champions, to qualify for the Champions League yet now we are ready,” Guardiola said sarcastically at a press conference within the week.
“We are ready, so maybe we shouldn’t play any more games in the Premier League because we are already champions.
“I don’t understand why we have to play against Tottenham and after against Everton? I don’t understand it because we are already champions.”
“I understand why people are talking about it but nothing is eternal, nothing is perfect. Just because we won in the past it doesn’t mean we are going to win in the future.
“We have to focus on the next game. Always in my career with my teams we have thought in this way and talked in this way and this is not an exception.”
He then used Liverpool as a perfect example to warn his players to stay on their toes.
“Liverpool remains one of the best teams I’ve seen in my life and were able to make an incredible run of 68 games at home unbeaten - destroying, winning by big margins, winning in the last minutes - for three seasons without one defeat,” he said.
“Then immediately, you don’t know why, three defeats in a row. Do you think it cannot happen with us? Of course, it can happen.
“It can happen in one week and you can lose three or four games immediately after an unbeaten run.”
Surely, the next three league games will be tough ones. City face Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Four days later the team will travel to Goodison Park to lock horns with in-form Everton. Then comes another away tie against Arsenal. It is difficult to imagine, but three defeats here and things could spiral downwards fast.
So the boss certainly has a point.
In football, things can change overnight. Whoever thought Liverpool would be in the position they find themselves right now? Just weeks ago, the Reds were top of the pile and looking good. The players need to heed Guardiola’s wisdom and keep their eyes on the ball to avoid getting distracted by talk of having already won the league.