Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool are still the biggest challengers to his side’s Premier League title defence.
Tenth-placed Liverpool host second-placed City at Anfield on Sunday and are 13 points behind Guardiola’s side.
However, Guardiola said Liverpool “always have been” City’s main rivals for the title when asked on Friday.
“If you asked that question with 10 games left I would say I don’t think Liverpool can catch the top of the league,” he said.
“But being in the position we are now, and with the World Cup, anything can happen.
“I know the quality they have. It has always been a tough game and I don’t expect anything else.”
City have won four of the past five Premier League titles, with Liverpool beating them to the 2019-20 season by 18 points.
The Reds have pushed City to the final day of the season twice in recent years, including last season when City came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to deny Jurgen Klopp’s side the Premier League title and a chance at the ‘quadruple’.
“A few months ago Liverpool were competing for a prestigious situation in English football, four titles, they had more shots, possession, everything in the final and they lost,” Guardiola said.
“This is the same team, same manager, things can happen.
“It’s part of the nature of the competition. I don’t look at good moments or bad moments I analyse as a team always expecting the best of them.
Klopp earlier agreed this weekend’s fixture could be a title decider – but “not with us”.
The Liverpool manager added: “They helped us to keep going of course in the seasons when we were both running away, this season is obviously different.”