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Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City’s title dream will still be alive and kicking if they lose to Liverpool today.
City welcome Jurgen Klopp’s men to the Etihad knowing a defeat would leave them eight points behind the champions.
But Guardiola, 49, believes it is far too early in the season for the game to be billed as a title decider.
The City boss said: “It is an important game, but like presidential elections in the USA all the votes must be counted.
“Of course, it is important. We cannot deny that. But it is just our seventh game and there are a lot of points to play for.”
Guardiola (pictured above) has confirmed City will once again be without influential striker Sergio Aguero.
But despite seeing his side pick up just 11 points from their opening six league games, the Spaniard refuses to hit the panic button.
He added: “When you play against teams like Liverpool, you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it. We have to do it.
“There will be up and down moments. We need to take our chances and be clinical.”
Klopp has also rejected any notion the match will have long-term significance on who lifts the title.
He said: “It’s of course nothing even close to a title decider. I don’t know what it is; it’s a football game.
“There are so many games to come. Whatever happens on Sunday will not decide about the league. Too many things can happen, especially in this year.
“I enjoy these kind of games. I enjoy the preparation but it doesn’t make it easier — it’s just a really tough task.”
Thiago Alcantara is edging closer to a return but the trip to City has come too soon for the midfielder.
And Klopp is also still without Fabinho (hamstring) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee).