Liverpool may be five points clear over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, but the gap is nothing in the title race at this stage.
The Reds received an almighty boost on Saturday, having seen off Newcastle before watching Manchester City lose at Norwich.
It opened up a five-point lead over the champions with as many matches played, leading to growing belief about this finally being Liverpool’s year.
Guardiola even joked Liverpool have won the title race and were already Champions as he was quoted via Goal saying:
“We’re in September… we’re going to do that? Okay: congratulations, Liverpool, you are the champions.
“We’re in September! We’ll recover, go to Ukraine, then we come back.
“Of course, we’ve dropped five points. Tottenham was a pity because we played very well.”
However, Klopp will be taking no chances as he’s well aware his counterpart is well versed for mind games as well – just as he is.
Kevin De Bruyne has responded bullishly to City’s shock defeat, however, saying they can still easily match last season’s 98-point haul.
“Last season we were seven points behind – it happens. Of course we want to win every game but it is difficult.
You have to respect the other team and when they do well. They do well and that is it.
It will be tough, the next seven months, like last year. It never stops. It is our job and sometimes it is hard but you have to take it on the chin.
We lost four games out of 38 last season and that is a good record. We can still win this season with the same points at the end of this season.”
As much as Liverpool fans may not want to hear it, De Bruyne is right to highlight how the Reds’ advantage over City in the title race evaporated last season.
It is far too early in the campaign to be making bold statements, not that optimism should ever be criticised.
Such is City’s winning mentality, they will bounce back from this setback, most likely going on their latest winning run.
Pep Guardiola will be concerned by Liverpool’s start, however, and his side’s defensive issues are plain to see.
Liverpool as well have not been as solid as last season with only one clean sheet so far this term.
And ultimately both sides could eventually be left with cracks that could throw the title race wide open in the nearest future.
One thing is certain, only the end of the world will stop Guardiola from going into the transfer window for a centre back come January, especially after Otamendi and Stones’ horror show against Norwich.
Then perhaps De Bruyne’s statement towards the title race was made with a future perspective as Liverpool’s next run of fixtures do look tricky.
In the space of the next month and counting, the Reds will take on Chelsea, Sheffield United, Leicester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Three members from the top six within a month and a resilient Leicester side is a hard fixture list for anyone to deal with – even for a team with Liverpool’s abilities.
Not to forget that Champions League games, as well as a Carabao Cup fixture, is sandwiched in between all of these and it won’t be wrong for De Bruyne to imagine that Liverpool will somehow drop points in the midst of that hectic schedule.
In the same time frame, City’s Premier League opponents will be Watford, Everton, Wolves, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Not straightforward games in any way but with all due respect(to the clubs) City could easily take all 15 points in this window. Especially as Guardiola will be out to cut the deficit short in the title race.
If Liverpool draw a game or even go ahead to lose one and City take maximum points within that window, the deficit could cut short to three points and De Bruyne would hope to cover that when both sides meet early in November.
The summary being that if City can maintain a winning streak till January or even better reduce the deficit before then, Liverpool could be the ones playing catch up in the end.
It’s just a case of seeing how long City can hold their cool without an organized backline and also if Liverpool will capitalize on that pending the time City can bring in reinforcements in January.
The Reds simply have to keep doing their job each week and see how the title race pans out.
It looks set to be another fascinating title race battle tussle over the next few months.