Pep Guardiola has claimed the chance of Man City turning over the 11-point gap between themselves and Liverpool to win the title is “unrealistic.”
City reduced the deficit with a 3-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday evening, but did so having played a game more as Jurgen Klopp‘s side were in Qatar.
The world champions will fulfil that fixture next year, with the trip to West Ham yet to be rescheduled, while their next outing comes away to second-placed Leicester.
A win at the King Power would further cement the Reds’ incontestable claim as title favourites, but Guardiola has suggested the trophy is already destined for Anfield.
“I think it is unrealistic to think we are going to chase down a team who has 60 victories out of 70 games,” he said.
“If they lose a few games and we win and win I don’t know what will happen.
“But I’m not optimistic they are going to lose four or five games in 10, 11, 12 games because they are such an incredibly strong team.
“We just have to relax and play how we played against Leicester and try to win our games to secure Champions League qualification next season and after that, you never know.”
It is interesting to see Guardiola publicly drop his expectations for the campaign, and though a top-four finish is now perhaps more realistic for City, it is indicative of Liverpool’s imperious form.
In 17 league games so far this season, the Reds are yet to lose, winning 16, while City have already suffered four defeats and Leicester three; both have lost to Klopp’s side.
This is possibly a ploy by the City manager, in an attempt to level the playing field regardless of the 11 points between the two clubs, but it is impossible to ignore the truth.
Like last season, when Liverpool fans would watch City games hoping for an unlikely slip, Guardiola is now hoping “Leicester will have a good performance” on Boxing Day, in order to aid his side.
It is a miserable position for the champions to find themselves in, and the Reds can only keep mounting the pressure with more victories.