Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his players are used to the challenge of trying to keep pace with Manchester City and do not find it mentally draining.
By the time his side kick-off against second-placed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday they could be 12 points behind the Premier League leaders and defending champions – albeit with two games in hand.
The last two Covid-impacted seasons has seen the Reds and City both win a title each by a large gap, but the need to be almost-perfect every campaign has not gone away since 2018-19 when Liverpool earned 97 points but finished second to Pep Guardiola’s side.
“It’s not mentally draining, we are used to that,” said Klopp.
“You asked us two years ago when we were quite a few points ahead you said, ‘Oh no, City are able to do ridiculous things’.
“They are able to win the last 15 or whatever and the year before that when City were champions we both won the last 15 games pretty much.
“It’s the situation, we want to have that competition, it’s all fine, City are there to beat, but to do that you have to be perfect.
“If you are not perfect yourselves you have to hope that City is not perfect and that’s pretty much like a passive role which I don’t like much.
“You can see already it is getting much more exciting for you (the media). Not for us but obviously for the outside world.
“We are here together at the training ground so we can put our own focus to it, allow ourselves to stay positive, allow ourselves to look forward to the next football game and deal with all the difficulties we face over a day, which is quite challenging.”
Chelsea started December top of the table with a one-point lead over City but an indifferent month, including a defeat and three draws, has seen them fall eight points behind having played the same number of games.
The defending European champions have struggled to hit top form for some time but Klopp does not think that makes them less of a threat.
“I don’t think for one second this season Chelsea have lacked motivation,” he added.
“At the moment it looks a bit different but squad-wise the team they can line up is always so good but the amount of games you have to play when you don’t have your full squad is really tricky.
“So the problem is not the motivation – not for us and not for Chelsea. I’m pretty sure that the problem we (both) have is the quality of City.
“We have now a couple of years when we could really catch up with them, when we were nearly there and then we were there, so for us we understand how big that was.”