Jurgen Klopp says Manchester City are still firm favourites to be crowned Premier League champions even though his Liverpool side are in top spot with nearly half the season gone.
Liverpool have a one-point lead over City after 17 games following last weekend’s victory over Manchester United but the German is in no doubt Pep Guardiola’s men are in the driving seat.
“Only City can stop City, to be honest,” Klopp said to reporters on Tuesday. “We have to play our own game and get as many points as possible.”
With Liverpool and City playing at different times in recent weeks, one side has known the other’s result going into a game.
Last weekend City played first but this week it will be Liverpool. The Merseysiders face Wolverhampton on Friday before the champions take on Crystal Palace the following day.
Klopp insists the schedule is of little relevance.
He said: “I would say we are always motivated at the highest level so where could we put this extra portion, saying if City lost then it makes us more motivated? That doesn’t work. We are really concentrating on our situation.
“But we are in December. Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal — they are so close. I shouldn’t think about one opponent or we are the only one that can stop City.”
Liverpool face City at the Etihad Stadium on January 3 but, with three other fixtures first, that is not yet on Klopp’s mind.
Liverpool learned on Monday they will face Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League, with Klopp calling it a “big, big challenge”.
“The good thing is a couple of years ago if we’d have had Bayern Munich it would be like, ‘Wow, no chance’. The thing is we have a chance. That is enough to know.
“We know it is difficult, they know it is difficult and that’s how it should be. Two big games, 100 percent.”
Klopp also said that right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is making progress in his recovery from the ankle injury sustained against Napoli last week, and is hopeful the 20-year-old could still play a part in Liverpool’s festive programme.
“It actually looks surprisingly good,” he said. “I think Wolves will still be a bit too early but after that, they told me we can think about him.
“So far he didn’t train but the pain goes down second by second, which is good. The moment when he can deal with it, he is on the pitch, and the moment he is on the pitch we’ll make a decision. But it looks good for Trent.”