Published: Tue, January 01, 2019
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Manchester City title defence 'almost impossible' without beating Liverpool - Guardiola

Manchester City title defence 'almost impossible' without beating Liverpool - Guardiola

City bounced back from consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester with a 3-1 win at Southampton to move back into second above Tottenham. Despite calling the tune for much of the first half, City might have given away a penalty at 1-1 when Ward-Prowse went down under Oleksandr Zinchenko's challenge - though an award would have been harsh.

The champions can reduce the advantage further when the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday and Guardiola said it is a must-win game.

"We knew it, that with the position of Liverpool, if we drop points then it is over, it is finished", said City boss Pep Guardiola.

Liverpool take on Pep Guardiola's side at the Etihad, heading in to the match with a seven point lead over their closest title rivals.

"With the position of Liverpool, if we drop points then it is over, it is finished; it would be nearly impossible", said Guardiola in his post-match press conference.

The Belgium global, voted City's Player of the Season last time out, has been restricted to just nine appearances in all competitions this term due to a succession of injuries.

"We are not here to send messages to Liverpool".

In 2013, Jack Wilshere - who played for Arsenal at the time - was banned for two games after he made an offensive gesture to Manchester City fans.

"I know the distance is big, seven points, especially because they're so solid and consistent".

"[Liverpool] is one of those key games you live for". We just want to win. What can I do to help the players?

Lucas Digne, Everton (Tier 2 defender): Digne has overtaken Matt Doherty to have the highest fantasy points per game average in this tier, thanks in part to his two goals in Everton's 5-1 victory over Burnley on the day after Christmas.

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