Pep Guardiola has dismissed Jurgen Klopp’s suggestion Liverpool are not in a position to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Liverpool boss Klopp said he was “not sure” if his side would be able to apply pressure to City after they cut the champions’ lead to nine points, with a game in hand, on Thursday.
Yet City manager Guardiola does not think even Klopp believes what he said and expects it to take a huge points tally to secure the crown.
“I don’t believe him,” said Guardiola ahead of City’s trip to Norwich on Saturday.
“Absolutely [it’s possible] and he thinks the same, otherwise he wouldn’t be the competitor that he is. Of course he believes.
“In football, everything can happen. But he knows that he has to win a lot of games – like we know we have to win a lot of games – to fight to be champion again.”
Liverpool would finish with 96 points if they won all their remaining 15 games and Guardiola feels they are capable of doing just that.
The Reds chalked up 99 points in winning the title in 2020 after accumulating 97 when finishing runners-up to City, by one point, the previous year.
“Both teams have shown over the years that they can make an incredible run of victories in a row,” said Guardiola, whose side achieved a record 100 points in 2018.
“If one team is able to do it, they can do it again. Both teams have the same managers, more or less the same squads and ideas.
“Both could make 16, 17 wins in a row. They can do it, we can do it too. This is the reality.
“The margin to Liverpool is nothing. We have to win a lot of games – a lot – with many points, more than 90 points, to arrive at 95 or 96, to be champions. I’m pretty sure of that, definitely.”
Guardiola believes the title battles between City and Liverpool in recent seasons have raised the bar in the Premier League.
The Spaniard said: “One day [the time] to win the Olympic 100 metres was 11 seconds, then 10 seconds and after, below 10 seconds. This is competition.
“Now Rafael Nadal has 21 grand slams. This is the standard. If they want to beat him, [Roger] Federer and [Novak] Djokovic have to win two grand slams more.
“Liverpool and ourselves, we helped the raise in standards for sure. When we were able to get 100 points and after 98, and after they did 99 – both teams have made the other teams see this is the level.”
Guardiola thinks Liverpool’s current strength is evident in the fact that he feels they are good enough to catch a City side that have won 13 of their last 14 matches and drawn the other.
Not only do the Merseysiders have a game in hand on City, but they are still to visit the Etihad Stadium this term.
Guardiola said: “After the run we’ve done over the last 14 games, and we are just potentially six points ahead, it’s because the opponent is so good too.
“In normal circumstances an opponent would be 10 or 12 points [behind] with the amount of games we’ve won.”