It was billed as the title decider of all title deciders, a clash of titans to determine who would go on to win the Premier League, and yet at the end of 90 breathtaking minutes it remains as you were.

Manchester City, for all their attacking intent and brave play, could not find a killer knockout punch against Liverpool and so it will all come down to the final seven games and who can hold their nerve.

The Citizens have the advantage given they retain a one-point lead, but Pep Guardiola will feel his team deserved more, and Jurgen Klopp can still dream of a quadruple after what he described as a "wild" game.

As it turns out, fortune does not always necessarily favour the brave – though credit must also go to Liverpool for themselves contributing to another Premier League classic between these heavyweights.

It became clear an hour before kick-off that Guardiola would be true to his word: City had no intention of playing for a point in the biggest game of a thrilling campaign that had seen the chasers close the gap on the leaders from 14 points to just one heading into this showdown.

With Gabriel Jesus recalled for his first league start since New Year's Day in an attack that also included Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, City were out for blood against a Liverpool side on a 10-game winning run in the competition.

For a manager now famed for over-thinking his team selection, this was a masterstroke from Guardiola. De Bruyne and Jesus were on the scoresheet, the latter ending a run of 37 shots without scoring in the competition, while Sterling had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR.

But the reward at the end of it all was only a point as Liverpool, who went with the line-up many had been expecting, twice hit back to ensure this enthralling title race has another chapter of drama still to come.

Five minutes was all it took for City's attacking approach to pay off. Moments after Sterling was denied by Alisson from close range, De Bruyne's long-range strike – via a telling deflection off Joel Matip – went in off the post to give the reigning champions lift-off.

That was the 10th goal City have scored in the opening 10 minutes of Premier League games this season, each of the last four netted by De Bruyne in the fifth minute – a remarkable quirk. The outcome when City have taken the lead, regardless of the minute, had always been the same: won 22, drawn none, lost none.

The title race was over, on that basis. Except of course it wasn't.

Diogo Jota's leveller eight minutes later, following brilliant interplay between full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, had Liverpool back on level terms in a match that lived up to its pre-match billing. Did you really expect anything else?

If the previous omens had been stacked in City's favour, now Liverpool had something similar to cling to given Jota had not lost in any of the previous 32 Premier League games in which he had scored. Make that 33 on a day when Klopp's own selection calls were justified by the final result.

Jota's record was under threat when City continued to probe with more intent than their rivals and regained the lead through Jesus, who got on the end of Joao Cancelo's pass in behind Alexander-Arnold and finished past Alisson.

Trailing in a Premier League game at half-time for the first time in exactly a year, when coming back to beat Aston Villa, Liverpool needed just 46 seconds of the second half to level through a Sadio Mane goal assisted by Mohamed Salah – the Egypt international's 159th Premier League goal involvement for the Reds, a tally only Steven Gerrard (212) can better.

It was the first time City had conceded in the first minute of the second half in a league game since November 2004 against Norwich City, though once again their response did not take long to arrive, albeit with Sterling's finish against his former club rightly ruled out for offside.

That attacking intent remained clear to see when Riyad Mahrez replaced Sterling, rather than a more cautious option being introduced, and the Algeria international twice went close to winning the game when clipping the post from a free-kick and chipping over both Alisson and the crossbar when through on goal from the final act of the game.

And so for all the to-ing and fro-ing, 2-2, and one point the gap between the sides, is how it remained come a full-time whistle that no neutral was ready to hear. A second meeting between these sides this season, a second four-goal thriller, and still there is next to nothing to separate perhaps the two greatest sides in world football.

It sets up a tense and intriguing final six weeks of the season and, the best of all, we get to do it all over again when the sides face off in an FA Cup semi-final next Saturday.

Unlike on this blockbuster day of Premier League football, there has to be a winner at Wembley.

Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City had the upper hand in their 2-2 draw with Liverpool as he called on his side to produce similar performances with seven Premier League games left to play.

City needed just five minutes to edge ahead when De Bruyne, via a deflection from Joel Matip and the right post, cannoned in his sixth goal in as many games before Diogo Jota equalised.

Gabriel Jesus restored the lead in the first half for Pep Guardiola's side with his fifth goal in all competitions against Liverpool, only scoring more for City against Everton (eight).

That was the first time Liverpool had trailed at half-time in the league all season, but Sadio Mane levelled immediately after the break at the Etihad Stadium to keep the title race alive.

City remain a point clear of Jurgen Klopp's side and, with a return leg in their Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid and an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, De Bruyne urged his team to play as well as they did on Sunday.

"It was hard. I think we played excellent. I know we conceded two goals but the way we played today was very good; we should have scored more but it is what it is and we keep going," the Belgium star told Sky Sports.

"I think we should [have won]. Obviously the way the second half started that is the disappointment but we know in a couple of chances that Liverpool can score.

"We created enough chances to win the game but it didn't happen.

"I think it demonstrated how close it is between the two teams, but we played really well and had the upper hand even if we didn't win – that can happen. This is the way we need to play and approach the other games."

As for whether the clash at the Etihad Stadium would decide the destination of the title, De Bruyne suggested City had not secured the advantage by earning the draw.

"No, I think it is similar. I know a lot of people spoke saying whoever wins the game wins the title, but I don't think either team would think that way – it's way too hard," he responded when asked if the result was decisive.

"The schedule is way too hard for both teams to win all the games, so we're going to try, but I think the way we showed today was the way we need to move forward."

Substitute Riyad Mahrez could have snatched victory in the closing stages but wastefully chipped over, though De Bruyne holds no grudges.

"It's a clear chance, obviously. Riyad chose to chip the goalkeeper and if it goes in it's a wonder goal, but it didn't go in today, so that's it," he said.

Sadio Mane kept Liverpool in the Premier League title hunt with a priceless second-half equaliser in a gripping 2-2 draw with leaders Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's side sat 14 points behind City in January, but a 10-game winning run cut the gap to just one point to set up what many billed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium.

Diogo Jota cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opener in an enthralling start, and Mane followed suit swiftly after the interval following Gabriel Jesus' 36th-minute strike.

Neither side could find a winner, with Raheem Sterling seeing a goal disallowed, as Pep Guardiola's side kept their slender lead intact with seven games left to play.

Sterling squandered a glorious chance after five minutes as he was denied by the onrushing Alisson following a square Jesus pass, but City were ahead just seconds later.

De Bruyne profited from a quick Bernardo Silva free-kick before arrowing a left-footed effort home, the ball going in off the right post following a fortuitous deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool responded within eight minutes, with Andy Robertson finding Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played the ball back from the far post for Jota to squeeze a low strike under Ederson.

De Bruyne whipped narrowly wide in search of his second before Jesus latched onto a Joao Cancelo cross and coolly finished via the underside of the crossbar.

Mane levelled up within a minute of the second half getting under way, racing onto Mohamed Salah's throughball to slot powerfully past Ederson, who thwarted Jota's prodded effort shortly after.

Sterling thought he had nudged the hosts ahead again, but a VAR check showed the forward was offside when De Bruyne passed the ball, while Salah curled just off target at the other end.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez provided a late scare for the visitors as he clipped the post with a free-kick, and then chipped over after a sublime De Bruyne pass, but there would be no decisive goal.

Mohamed Salah has moved above Robbie Fowler into second place for the most goal involvements by a Liverpool player in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old assisted Sadio Mane's goal early in the second half of Sunday's crunch meeting with Manchester City to make it 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium.

That was Salah's 159th goal contribution for the Reds in the competition, moving him in front of Fowler (158 goal involvements) and behind only Steven Gerrard (212) on the list of combined goals and assists among Liverpool players.

Michael Owen (148) and Roberto Firmino (116) make up the rest of the top five, with this the 30th season of the Premier League era.

Salah came into the game at City with 115 goals and the assist took him to 44 in 174 games, which compares to 128 goals and 30 assists for Fowler in 266 games.

With his contribution to the equaliser, Salah moved to 20 goals and 11 assists in this season's Premier League – eight more goal contributions than next-best Son Heung-min of Tottenham.

Salah's most prolific campaign to date came in 2017-18 when scoring 32 times and setting up 10 goals, with that tally of 42 goal involvements the fifth-most ever in a Premier League season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool's assists king – and he emphasised his creative threat when setting up Diogo Jota for an early equaliser at Manchester City on Sunday.

The attacking right-back played Andy Robertson's cross back to striker Jota, who beat Ederson to cancel out Kevin De Bruyne's deflected fifth-minute strike.

The 13th-minute leveller meant Alexander-Arnold has now had an assist for a Liverpool goal against all 19 of their current Premier League rivals.

He is the only player to have completed a full set of assists against the current group of teams in the English top flight, Opta said.

It was his 12th assist of the Premier League season, which is a league high, and meant he was one short of matching his best tally in the competition (13 in 2019-20).

City restored their lead by half-time, with Gabriel Jesus putting the home side 2-1 in front at the Etihad Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden were recalled to Manchester City's starting line-up for Sunday's Premier League clash against Liverpool, with the Reds making three changes.

Brazil international Jesus made his first league start since City's New Year's Day win against Arsenal in place of the benched Riyad Mahrez.

Foden made an instant impact from the substitutes' bench by assisting Kevin De Bruyne's winner against Atletico Madrid in midweek and was rewarded with a place in the XI.

He had scored in each of his past three top-flight games against Liverpool, including a goal in October's 2-2 draw at Anfield in the reverse fixture.

Kyle Walker was also included from the beginning, with Ilkay Gundogan and Nathan Ake the other two players to make way from City's European win against Atletico.

Ruben Dias missed out through injury as expected, meaning John Stones again partnered Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool also brought in three new faces from their 3-1 Champions League win against Benfica in midweek for what was billed as a likely Premier League title decider.

Diogo Jota replaced Luis Diaz alongside Sadio Mane and the out-of-form Mohamed Salah up top, while skipper Jordan Henderson took over from Naby Keita in midfield.

Salah had scored in four of his last five Premier League games against Man City, including each of his last three in a row.

The Reds' other change saw Joel Matip recalled alongside Virgil van Dijk in place of Ibrahima Konate.

Liverpool entered the contest on a 10-game winning run in the Premier League, which had seen them close the gap on the leaders to just a point ahead of Sunday's huge clash.

City had lost just one of their past 12 home league games against Liverpool ahead of their latest showdown, going down 4-1 at the Etihad in November 2015.

The Reds were also without a clean sheet in any of their past 11 Premier League away meetings with City since a goalless draw in February 2010.

Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Cancelo, Stones, Laporte; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Sterling, Foden, Jesus.

Subs: Steffen, Mahrez, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, McAtee, Lavia, Grealish, Gundogan, Ake.

Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Jota.

Subs: Kelleher, Jones, Tsimikas, Konate, Gomez, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Diaz.

Mohamed Salah could ruin his Liverpool legacy if he leaves and is not "sensible" in his contact negotiations, according to Reds great Jamie Carragher.

Salah has starred for Jurgen Klopp's side since joining from Roma in 2017 for £34million (39m euro), but uncertainty remains over his future with his contract set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Reports suggest the Egypt forward, who has won the Premier League Golden Boot award twice, is looking to be made the highest-paid player at the club by a considerable distance.

Liverpool appear unwilling to budge on their wage structure, though Klopp previously suggested he is "happy" with how the ongoing negotiations are going.

Carragher pointed towards former Reds talisman Fernando Torres as he urged Salah to be cautious in how he approaches the discussions, otherwise he risks tarnishing his reputation.

"I don't think Liverpool will up their offer at this moment," Carragher said on Sky Sports ahead of what is being billed as the Premier League title decider between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday.

"But I think Mo Salah should be sensible, he and his representatives should understand the situation they have at Liverpool.

"He will still be getting an amazing contract. But the football he's playing now, he's playing for one of the best managers in the world, one of the best teams in the world.

"What he's done over the last four or five years makes him one of the greatest players to ever wear a Liverpool shirt. And I just think it would be sad if he was to move on, maybe to a rival in this country.

"I think he'd lose his legacy, if you like, at Liverpool. If you look at what happened to Fernando Torres, going to Chelsea... I just don't think it'd be great for his career.

"Where could he go that's better than Liverpool right now? I don't think there is anywhere."

Torres formed a formidable partnership with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard after joining in 2007, scoring 81 times in 142 appearances, but his relationship with the Anfield faithful turned sour when he joined Chelsea in 2011.

That move coincided with a downturn in the former Spain forward's career and Carragher believes Salah could face a similar problem, though the centre-back is hopeful the forward will stay.

"I still believe he will sign, I think this is the best place for him," he said.   

"It's not as though Mo Salah came to Liverpool as a superstar, he became a superstar at Liverpool and I think Jurgen Klopp, the way his team plays brings out the best in him.

"I don't think it would be a sensible move for him if he was to move on, I really don't. I think it would be better for him and obviously the club if he could put pen to paper."

Liverpool great Dietmar Hamann questioned the hype surrounding Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as he insisted Reds' boss Jurgen Klopp ranks above the Spaniard.

City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in a match widely billed as a title decider, with Klopp's side cutting the leaders' gap to just one point following a 10-game winning run.

Whether it's Trent Alexander-Arnold against Joao Cancelo, Alisson versus Ederson or the influence of Mohamed Salah compared to Kevin De Bruyne, there are battles to be won across the pitch in Manchester.

But there will also be a focus on the touchline, with Guardiola facing old foe Klopp, who has defeated the former Bayern Munich boss more than any other manager in all competitions (eight).

The German tactician has only lost as many matches against Felix Magath (8) in his coaching career as he has against Guardiola, but Hamann placed his backing firmly on the Liverpool manager.

"When Klopp arrived at Anfield in 2015 and Guardiola at City a year later, the Premier League was hugely competitive and hard to win," he wrote in his Daily Mail column. 

"In just a few years they have turned it into a two-horse race. I simply wouldn't have thought it was possible for two teams to dominate the Premier League in the way they have.

"But there are three current managers who I regard as more successful than Guardiola and I still don't really get the hype that surrounds him.

"Jose Mourinho has won league titles in four different countries and the Champions League with two clubs, while Carlo Ancelotti's record is second to none and about to get better if Real Madrid can win La Liga.

"And the third manager? For me, it's Jurgen Klopp. What he has achieved on the budgets he has at Liverpool is remarkable. He is a truly exceptional manager. His great skill is in integrating players which is a talent Guardiola doesn't possess in quite the same way."

Since Guardiola's arrival in England at the start of the 2016-17 season, City have taken a league-high 516 points and Liverpool are close behind with 488 points. Chelsea are a distant third on that list with 427 points.

But Hamann, who played for both Liverpool and City during his playing career, still believes Klopp holds the edge over Guardiola, due to how he adapts to his new signings, such as Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.

"When Klopp signed Diogo Jota last season everyone questioned whether he would get anywhere near the team, but he was immediately involved," he continued. "It's been exactly the same with Luis Diaz.

"In fact, compare the case of Diaz to Jack Grealish and it goes some way to showing the difference between the managers.

"We've seen players come into the Premier League and you often need six to eight weeks to adjust because it's a unique game. Diaz came in and he fired immediately because the style suits him.

"Look on the other side, you've got Grealish, who cost three times as much yet is struggling to make any sort of an impact. He's a £100million player yet he still isn't fully integrated.

"The way Liverpool players speak about their manager, they would run through brick walls for him. I'm not sure City's players would do the same.

"You look at all the teams around Europe and I think Liverpool are the pick of the lot. And I wouldn't swap this manager for any other. Including Guardiola."

Pep Guardiola says he will cherish the memories of Manchester City's rivalry with Liverpool when the Spaniard eventually calls time on his stay at the Etihad Stadium.

The two sides meet in a blockbuster Premier League clash in the battle for the title on Sunday, with the champions leading the in-form Reds by just a point.

It will be the first of two encounters between Guardiola and long-time managerial rival Jurgen Klopp this month, with the pair then set to square off in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

They could also lock horns in the Champions League, as both clubs lead their quarter-final ties after the first leg.

Guardiola continues to relish pitting his wits against Liverpool boss Klopp.

"In my period here, what I will remember is the rivalry with Liverpool," he told Sky Sports. "That's for sure. We raised the standards.

"We got 100 points, before that the example was around 80 to 91. After we got 100 it was 98, Liverpool with 97 and then 99.

"So now teams know you have to go 90-100 points to have the chance to be champion. We write that level, and we pushed each other.

"Sir Alex [Ferguson, with Manchester United] and [Arsene] Wenger [with Arsenal] were there so many years together - 26 and 22 - we are here with less time doing this."

Liverpool have already won the EFL Cup this term and are eyeing an unprecedented quadruple.

The Merseyside club have won 10 consecutive Premier League games and Guardiola knows City will have their work cut out trying to keep their potent forwards quiet.

"The threats that they have in front - they had an incredible three players [in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino]," he added.

"Now [they have] an incredible five with Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, plus Divock Origi who always scores when they need to make decisive goals.

"We don't have a proper striker, but it is what it is. We still score a lot of goals in our way, we still concede few, so we're going to continue to do it."

Jesse Lingard's future with Manchester United is unclear.

The 29-year-old England international is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lingard had a brilliant loan spell at West Ham United last season but has remained out of favour at Old Trafford this term.



Lingard could reunite with Jose Mourinho at Roma, with the Italian club joining the race for the forward, according to the Mirror.

Lingard is being pursued by West Ham following his impressive loan spell, while Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old.

Serie A clubs Milan and Juventus also have an interest in Lingard, with a move to Italy offering a lucrative alternative option.

English pair Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham have enjoyed productive spells at Roma, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on loan from Arsenal.



- Real Madrid are moving on from their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe , who appears set to stay with Paris Saint-Germain, by turning their attention to landing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, claims the Mirror.

- Inter will make a move to sign Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, following his August exit from the Italian champions, reports Football Insider. Lukaku previously expressed his regret at leaving Inter.

- The Sun claims that Arsenal and Tottenham will battle to sign Leicester City midfielder James Maddison who is rated at £60million and could be put up for sale.

- Danny Ings could be on his way out of Aston Villa as manager Steven Gerrard plans a clear-out, according to the Mirror.

- CBS Sports claims Liverpool and West Ham are no longer interested in Leicester City's Youri Tielemans, leaving the door open for Manchester United to land the midfielder.

- Juventus are circling for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho , reports Tutto Mercato.

Mohamed Salah is beginning to believe Liverpool can win an unprecedented quadruple and has told team-mates to "enjoy it and go for everything". 

Speculation over his Anfield future is adding a soap opera element to Liverpool's push for titles on all fronts, as it remains to be seen whether the Egyptian signs a new contract. 

That is a distraction Liverpool and Salah are trying to push aside for the moment, with an intense schedule of games meaning there is scant time to deal with such matters. 

Salah will be the player Liverpool look to again on Sunday when Jurgen Klopp's team tackle Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in a game that is being dubbed, rather preemptively, as a title decider. 

Liverpool trail City by one point and both will have seven matches remaining after Sunday, with City not having to face any side currently in the top five across those remaining games. 

It makes it perhaps imperative that Liverpool do win in Manchester, and Salah said: "We know how to play big games. Hopefully we will win the next game but if you ask me about advantage, they have more of an advantage because they are a point ahead and are at home. 

"The most important thing for us is not to lose the game, but if we lose the gap is going to be bigger." 

Salah is the Premier League's top scorer with 20 goals, albeit he has not netted from open play in his last eight games for Liverpool. 

He has not quite maximised the chances that have come his way this season, given his expected goals (xG) total of 21.7 exceeds the number of times he has found the net. Last season he scored 22 Premier League goals from an xG total of 19.3. 

Team-mates Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane have 14 and 12 Premier League goals respectively this term, with Liverpool the competition's highest scorers with 77 goals from 30 games. 

Salah has scored in four of his previous five Premier League games against City, including each of his last three in a row, but Liverpool are winless in their past four against Pep Guardiola's side in the competition (D2 L2). 

This time they believe it can be different. Liverpool have won each of their last 10 Premier League games, keeping eight clean sheets in this run, and with the EFL Cup already secured, Klopp's team are closing in on glory in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. 

City are their FA Cup semi-final opponents, and the teams could even meet in the Champions League final. 

Salah senses the chance to make trophy history, saying: "We wish we can do four. We've never done four before. This season we are really close and we are in top form. 

"We've won the last 10 games in the Premier League so we are in a good way, and hopefully we can win the next game. 

"We look at this situation now and we just have to enjoy it. We can't be in this situation and feel pressure. We just have to enjoy it and go for everything." 

Klopp's team are 3-1 up in their Champions League quarter-final against Benfica, ahead of the second leg on Wednesday, as the big games keep coming. 

"Our programme is insane," said the Reds manager. "We play City, Benfica, City, [Manchester] United and Everton. They all will hope if we win one of the City games we will celebrate for three or four days, but we will not." 

Liverpool have nothing to lose in their engrossing Premier League title battle with Manchester City, according to former Reds defender Jose Enrique.

Jurgen Klopp's side trailed City by 14 points on January 15, but 10 wins in a row has moved them within a point of the leaders with eight matches to go.

Liverpool beat Watford on Saturday to move above their rivals for the first time since November 27, but City reclaimed top spot later in the day with victory at Burnley.

The two sides face off at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in what is being billed as a title decider, and Jose Enrique insists Liverpool are under less pressure than their opponents.

"Before there was a 14-point difference and now they are stuck with Manchester City, so it depends on the fight," the Spaniard, who spent five years at Anfield, told Stats Perform. 

"I think Liverpool have an advantage because they have nothing to lose. In January everything seemed lost and now they are there and it will be very nice. 

"Hopefully they win everything, but if it's just the Premier League or the Champions League it's going to be a very good season."

Indeed, like opponents City, Liverpool are still in the hunt to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, on top of the EFL Cup they have already secured.

The Reds have been in particularly good form in 2022 and Jose Enrique believes the addition of Luis Diaz in January helped the club's relentless quest for a quadruple.

"April will be the month in which everything will be defined, although the Champions League final is later, and first you have to get there," he said. 

"But in April everything is played: Manchester City, the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and we will have to see what happens. The team is going to go all out. 

"The signing of Luis Diaz in January did the team a lot of good on a mental level because they needed a player who could compete with the other three and also Diogo Jota."

Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah insists his contract situation is not distracting him from his game ahead of a crucial clash in the Premier League title race.

Salah's deal at Anfield runs out at the end of the 2022-23 season, and reports suggest he is looking to be made the highest-paid player at the club by a considerable distance.

The former Chelsea and Roma forward has scored 28 goals in all competitions this season, a tally bettered only by Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (37) and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (45) from Europe's top five leagues.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's encounter with title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium – with Liverpool just one point behind Pep Guardiola's team at the top of the table – Salah said now is not the time to discuss his own future ahead of a busy period.

After being asked if he was confident a deal would eventually be struck, Salah answered: "I can't say yes, I can't say no, but I've said many times before about what I want.

"But again, I can't really go deep into the contract [situation] now because it's a really sensitive situation and the team needs to win. 

"I can't be just going to the news and talking about my contract now, I just focus on the team and that's it."

Salah has not scored from open play in his last eight games for Liverpool, but the 29-year-old insisted he has not allowed the ongoing contract situation to distract him on the pitch.

"No, not at all," he said when asked if it was affecting his game. "I talk to the manager from time to time, I am very professional.

"I know my job very well, I am almost here the first one and last one to leave [the training ground], I know what I'm doing so I'm not bothered about that.

"I am just focused with the team, that's the most important thing for me. Focused to win trophies, and I'm giving everything for the club I could."

Liverpool remain in the hunt for what would be an unprecedented quadruple. Jurgen Klopp's team have already won the EFL Cup and they are firmly in with a chance of lifting the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Pep Guardiola expects Manchester City and Liverpool to continue pushing each other for years to come as he compared their rivalry to that of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

City and Liverpool have lifted the Premier League title between them in each of the past four seasons and one of the two will be crowned champions this campaign, having once again proved far too strong for the chasing pack.

Liverpool trailed City by 14 points in January, albeit with two games in hand, and have since bridged the gap to just one point ahead of Sunday's huge showdown at the Etihad Stadium.

Should the Reds go on and win the title this term, it would mark the greatest comeback in terms of points in the competition's history, breaking the 1997-98 record of 13 points Arsenal made up to pip Manchester United to top spot.

City and Liverpool have showed remarkable consistency over the past five seasons to continually push each other for not just domestic but also European honours, something Guardiola believes could remain the case long after he has departed the club.

"We're five years into our rivalry – look at Nadal, Federer and Djokovic and that lasted 20 years," Guardiola said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"To maintain success in football is more difficult than other sports. But when I'm playing golf once I've retired, I'll remember during my time here the biggest rivalry was with Liverpool.

"When you achieve 100 points, 98 points, you need someone to push from behind to be so close. You have to make another step. I think, knowing our club and chairman, we was to continue to grow. I'm sure Liverpool will also try to do it.

"The most credit I can give is consistency through the years. That's why Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been on top for so long. We have to try to continue arriving at this stage with the aim of winning titles."

Guardiola added: "Real Madrid made Barcelona better. Here, [Manchester] United and Chelsea change their managers but at Liverpool, Jurgen has always been here. How consistent both clubs have been to improve what they need. It's obvious to say we grew up from day one."

Guardiola has lost more matches in all competitions against Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp than versus any other manager (eight), while the latter has only lost as many matches against Felix Magath (eight) in his managerial career as he has against Guardiola.

Klopp described Guardiola as the best manager in the world in his pre-match news conference earlier on Friday, words of respect in which the Catalan was keen to repay two days out from their latest meeting.

"Jurgen makes world football a better place to live. I try to have a good relationship with all the managers. Jurgen knows me. We also spoke together in Germany. He's a good guy and I don't have any problems with him.

"But I didn't become a manager to be the best. I'm not. Thank you so much for those comments, but I'm not [the best]. I'd like to say I am, but I'm not."

Sunday's meeting will be the 50th time in Premier League history that the top two sides have faced off, with the league leaders winning 20 and losing 18, the other 11 finishing all square.

It is the third such match between City and Liverpool, following a goalless draw in October 2018 and a 4-0 win for the Citizens against newly-crowned champions Liverpool in July 2020.

While the match is being billed as one of the biggest in English top-flight history, however, Guardiola is not pleased with the timing of the fixture as it clashes with the final day of The Masters at Augusta National.

"I will sleep like a baby before the game," Guardiola said when asked if he is feeling nervous. "But I'm upset with the Premier League because they put the game when Tiger Woods is back!

"It will be a massively important three points, of course, but there will be seven more games to play, another 21 points, plus other competitions."

Pep Guardiola proudly declared Manchester City and Liverpool have "raised the bar" in the Premier League, and on Sunday the north-west giants collide in a game that could have a telling impact on the destiny of the trophy.

It falls inconveniently between high-stakes Champions League quarter-final games, although the fact both City and Liverpool are ahead after the first legs of their ties somewhat mitigates that pressure.

Given City hold just a one-point lead over Liverpool with eight rounds of games remaining, a win for either at the Etihad Stadium would be a huge leap nearer to the title.

The prospect of Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp directing in their animated manner from the touchline, as their star-packed teams pull no punches on the pitch, makes this an unmissable game.

Ahead of kick-off in the biggest club game in Europe this weekend, Stats Perform has taken a look at some key pointers.

City start as favourites for a reason

English bookmakers have City as the team most likely to come away from this one with three points, and there is good reason for Guardiola's men to go in with confidence.

City have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League home games against Liverpool (W7 D4), going down 4-1 in Jurgen Klopp’s first visit in the competition in November 2015.

Liverpool had a 2-1 Champions League win at City in April 2018, but their recent successes in the league in this rivalry have been largely limited to games at Anfield. Indeed, Liverpool are winless in their last four Premier League games against City (D2 L2), regardless of the venue.

Only once in the competition have Liverpool had a longer run without a win against City, going five games without getting the better of the boys in blue between November 2011 and December 2013.

Keep it clean, lads

Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 11 Premier League away games against City, since a 0-0 draw in February 2010, and with Guardiola's formidable attacking resources it would surely be a surprise if this becomes the game where the Reds halt that sequence.

So goes one theory. Another way of looking at the game is to consider that Liverpool are in a stunning vein of form, and if they are ever going to halt the leakage of goals to City, it will be this weekend.

Liverpool have won each of their last 10 Premier League games, keeping eight clean sheets in doing so. It is their fifth run of 10 or more consecutive Premier League wins, Opta said.

Both Liverpool and City have achieved 18 clean sheets in 30 games this season, so could they even blunt out each other's threat?

When first and second collide

This is the 30th season of the Premier League, and Sunday's game marks the 50th time the top two sides in the division will have met.

Of the previous 49 such league clashes, the leaders have won on 20 occasions but lost 18 times, with 11 games drawn. City and Liverpool have met as the top two twice before, with a goalless draw at Anfield in October 2018 coming when City were at the summit, before Guardiola's men scored a 4-0 thrashing against Liverpool in July 2020.

The latter game came a week after Liverpool wrapped up the Premier League title, and was an ominous sign of a pendulum swing for the following season.

Liverpool can jump to first place for the first time since October 1, and they might bear in mind that battles between first and second towards the end of the season have tended to go the way of the chaser in recent times.

In fact, of the last eight Premier League clashes between the top two during the final 10 games of the season, the team in second have won seven times (L1), including each of the last five in a row.

There is just a sliver between these sides, reflected in the fact City have taken a league-high 516 points since Guardiola's arrival for the start of the 2016-17 season, and Liverpool are close behind with 488 points. Chelsea are a distant third on that list with 427 points.

The players who could make the difference

Phil Foden came off the bench to slide the pass that allowed Kevin De Bruyne to smash past Jan Oblak on Tuesday and give City a 1-0 first-leg lead over Atletico Madrid. Foden looks a sure-fire starter this weekend and has flourished in the Liverpool fixture, having scored in all three of his Premier League outings against Klopp's team, while also claiming two assists.

The 21-year-old could become just the second player to score in four successive Premier League appearances against the Reds, after Leicester City's Jamie Vardy, who found the back of the net in five straight games between 2016 and 2017.

Liverpool will know the threat could come from all angles, with Foden, ex-Liverpool man Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus all likely menaces.

Perhaps the danger coming from Liverpool themselves is more obvious, but that does not necessarily make it easier to deflect.

Mohamed Salah has scored in four of his last five Premier League games against City, including each of his last three. The last player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances against City was Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who netted in five successive meetings between December 2000 and October 2003.

Salah is the Premier League's top scorer and might be the chief threat, but Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz will have to be guarded carefully, should they feature.

It is a guessing game as to which three Klopp will perm from his five-man pool of star forwards. The occasion itself is a guessing game too, as Klopp and Guardiola attempt to outwit one another once again.

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