Goalkeeper Ederson believes Manchester City are now starting to hit their stride.
City dropped points in three of their opening five Premier League matches – a slow start which can partially be attributed to injuries, a limited summer break and a lack of pre-season preparation.
Their underwhelming results included a surprise 5-2 home thrashing by Leicester in September but there have been signs of confidence returning in recent weeks.
Pep Guardiola’s men have won five of their last six games in all competitions and Ederson feels momentum is building at the right time ahead of Sunday’s clash with champions Liverpool.
The Brazilian said: “It wasn’t one of the best starts to a season, in terms of results, but I think the team is recovering very well.
“It was a difficult. We had a few players testing positive for Covid-19 and a few injuries. Now, they are all returning little by little, so we have seen the team more compact and playing good football lately. We have more depth in the squad now.
“I think the team has got back to its level, we are focused, and on Sunday we have a good test to prove it.”
Liverpool have had their own setbacks – notably a 7-2 thrashing by Aston Villa last month – but they have also recovered and they topped the table after last weekend’s fixtures.
City would still have a game in hand, but defeat this weekend would leave them eight points behind the Reds.
Ederson said: “It’s the game everyone wants – the players, the fans, the media, everybody. I think it’s going to be a good game.
“They are some points ahead of us, but we have one game in hand and play against them on Sunday. I hope we can get a good result.”
City beat Liverpool 4-0 in last season’s corresponding fixture, but manager Guardiola says little can be read into that match in July.
Liverpool had been crowned as champions just the week before and the circumstances are this time are not the same.
Guardiola said: “It’s a new competition. This is completely different. There will be different players and we are playing in a different way right now in the way we press.
“I don’t pay much attention to what happened in the past because the past is the past, for good or bad.
“Always we have another chance with a new game. With the players that we have, and the best conditions possible, we will try to play.”
One player not involved is inspirational Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk, who is set to miss most of the season through injury. That may favour City but Guardiola insists it is a shame.
Guardiola, who is without a star man himself in Sergio Aguero, said: “The most important thing is that the surgery was good and I hope he can recover as quickly as possible. I will miss him. I like to play with the best players on the pitch.”