Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s Premier League title bid hangs on Thursday’s clash with Liverpool.
Guardiola believes reigning champions City’s fight to retain their title will be all-but over unless they beat leaders Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
City shook off their consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester with Sunday’s 3-1 win at Southampton, where strikes from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and a James Ward-Prowse own goal sealed victory.
Unbeaten pace-setters Liverpool lead second-placed City by seven points after 20 games, leaving Guardiola conceding his side’s title tilt will be on the line this week.
“With the position of Liverpool, if we drop points then it is over, it is finished; it would be almost impossible,” said Guardiola.
“Of course they are going to drop points but not too many. If you want to be there as far as possible until the end, we have to remember what happened last season, and this as well, apart from the last few days.
“We never forget who we are. Sometimes you have to kick your face, be a little bit stubborn and ask ‘guys, what happened?’.
“Maybe I’m wrong but all players everywhere want to do well. Sometimes you need to realise that wanting to do well is not enough. You have to try it again.
“Liverpool know what they have to do, we know what we have to do on Thursday.
“I know the distance is big, seven points, especially because they’re so solid and consistent. But we’re at home, hopefully our extra help from our people at the Etihad can help, they can support us.
“In the winter break everyone loses games, except for Liverpool in this period, but everyone drops points, that’s normal.
“We spoke about our responsibilities and what we are as a team and they did it today, and that was fantastic.”
Kevin De Bruyne missed Sunday’s Southampton clash with a muscular issue and will be a doubt for the pivotal Liverpool clash.
Southampton are facing up to a possible four-match ban for captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who scored for Saints but was sent off late on for a two-footed tackle on Fernandinho.
“The worst thing that could happen today would be that we lose a player,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“The red card was the worst moment of the evening; it hurts us a lot, it’s a silly tackle when the game is gone.
“We will miss him, he’s our best midfielder at the club.”