Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan insists their Premier League title chances did not disappear with defeat to Liverpool – even if he accepts they now need favours from other teams to get back into the race.
A 3-1 loss extended the club’s woeful run at Anfield to just one win in the last 29 league visits but, more significantly, opened up a nine-point gap to their rivals.
Liverpool lost only one league match last season in finishing just a point behind City in a thrilling title race and have dropped just two points in the opening 12 matches.
So Gundogan knows they require assistance from the rest of the Premier League if they are to claw back the deficit.
“We have to accept it, but there is a long way to go. Last season in January we were quite far behind and were able to turn it around,” he said.
“But we are not independent any more – we have to see how our competitors do, especially Liverpool, and that makes the situation more uncomfortable.
“We have to keep trying to play well and amass as many points as possible.
“I don’t feel the title has already gone, and I don’t think the Liverpool players will feel like that, because we are all professionals.
“We all try to do our best on the pitch but sometimes it doesn’t work out – we are human beings.
“It’s an interesting competition and will be a great season for the spectators.
“We want to put pressure on ourselves and if we can reach our level in every game the results will come automatically.”
It was a strange game at Anfield in that City dominated the opening 20 minutes but found themselves 2-0 down.
The first, from Fabinho, was controversial as the ball had hit Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hand, after initially coming off Bernardo Silva’s arm, in the Liverpool’s penalty area only for play to be quickly transferred to the other end where the Brazil midfielder broke the deadlock 22 seconds later.
VAR checked the goal but saw no reason to overturn it but Gundogan felt they should have had a penalty in front of the Kop.
“What do you want me to say right now? Obviously as a City player it feels like a disadvantage for us,” he added.
“I saw the incident again in the dressing room afterwards and for me, obviously, it’s a penalty but if you ask a Liverpool player they would say ‘You can give it but it’s maybe a 50-50 situation’.
“I don’t think it’s easy to judge and I’m not here to make a statement on that, but there were a few situations where I thought maybe we could have had a decision for us. It didn’t happen and there’s nothing you can do.
“It’s always tough when they score the first, especially at Anfield, and then go straight away for the second one, with the crowd and their emotions.
“It takes a tough mentality to fight against that and unfortunately they scored the second straight after.
“It’s a defeat and we have to take it.”