Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says there is pressure on his side to win every remaining Premier League match this season as even an eight-point lead over Manchester City would not be enough of a cushion.
With City not playing until Monday Liverpool could extend the current five-point gap with victory at third-placed Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola’s side would have two matches in hand but their run-in record in recent years – they won their last 14 games in 2018-19 to pip their north-west rivals by a point and dropped just six points in the final 12 matches of 2021-22 to again win the title by a single point – means there is no margin for error from the Reds.
“Shall I go to the boys in the dressing room and say, ‘If we win against Arsenal we are eight points between us and them…’? Everybody knows that,” said the German, whose team have lost just once in the league.
“If we lose we are still two points ahead (if City win their game in hand as it stands), but then City are the big winner of a game they are not even involved in.
“That’s outside talk and fine. Inside, we just focus on the things we have to do.
“I think what we learned over the years is if you want to be around City then you better win all your football games because they do. That’s all.
“This is the time where City is dominating, that’s how it is. They play incredible stuff and would probably consider themselves not playing their very best season but are where they are.
“We play a very good season and are in the moment two points ahead of City. We will try to make it as hard as somehow possible for everyone who wants to finish the season above us.”
While there is a doubt over striker Darwin Nunez, who has a foot injury, Liverpool are almost back to full strength fitness-wise with only Mohamed Salah (hamstring) and Wataru Endo (Asian Cup) still unavailable in the short-term.
And while the forward line has so far not missed the input of Salah the midfield too has coped without Endo, their only genuine defensive midfielder.
Alexis Mac Allister has been tasked with the job for most of the season to allow Endo time to acclimatise to English football but the Argentina international was also learning a new role himself.
In recent weeks the defensive side of his game has improved markedly and in his last two league appearances against Bournemouth and Chelsea he made nine and eight tackles respectively – the most by any Liverpool player in the last three seasons – and won 25 duels across those two matches.
“I’m over the moon. Macca is just like a football doctor,” added Klopp.
“Playing the position the way he plays is very special. (He is) super-smart and his contribution for all our play in possession is extremely important.
“This is the best league in the world and we are top of the table, what does that say? Are there any bad players in this team? No.
“One thing in each footballer’s life, it is always consistency. You want to see it again.
“For the moment, the base is good, still to be extended to make sure we are in a good position for the run-in.”