Jurgen Klopp admits it will be difficult for Liverpool and their close rivals to stop Manchester City from winning the Premier League title now.
The German has partially conceded defeat in the race to become champions, but has challenged his players to push Pep Guardiola’s men close.
City are currently 11 points ahead of second-placed Manchester United and 18 points ahead of the fifth-placed Reds.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Bournemouth, Klopp told the Liverpool Echo: “This season nobody is really fighting anymore for the title. I don’t think United are.”
“We will all try to come as close as possible but if City don’t drop off then they will probably win it. Does that mean all the others have to stop? To be the best of the rest could be a fantastic target.”
“We need to try to have our the best position in the table for I don’t know how many years which is probably third or second.”
“Yes City are ahead of us in the moment but our performances show we could do it if we bring them often enough on the pitch. That’s what we are thinking about.”
“You have to make your own targets and go for it. You maybe face the other teams twice a season, maybe more in the FA Cup or in the Champions League. Those are the only moments you should be concerned about them or think about them.”
City’s remarkable form and win streak has set expectations incredibly high, somewhat fuelling the pressure being put on Liverpool and the rest of the top six clubs to respond. By usual standards, the 38 points Mourinho’s United have accumulated so far would put them at the top of the league.
Liverpool continue their fight for a top four spot on Sunday, when they travel to face Bournemouth looking to make amends for disappointing draws against West Brom and Everton.
With memories of last year’s crushing 4-3 defeat at Dean Court still fresh in the mind, it also represents an opportunity to get some revenge.
A response is needed after two sloppy performances, especially with Tottenham beginning to threaten signs of rediscovering their top form.