Manchester City will need to win all six of their remaining Premier League games to retain the title, according to manager Pep Guardiola as he cannot see Liverpool slipping up before the end of the season.
City edged back one point ahead of the Reds in the title race as second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva earned a 3-0 win over Brighton at the Etihad.
Liverpool had gone top with a 4-0 annihilation of Manchester United on Tuesday and Guardiola was gushing about the performance of Jurgen Klopp‘s men.
“We are facing one of the best teams ever. They have everything and that is why being there with them means a lot,” said Guardiola.
“It’s simple. Liverpool are going to win all the games. If we drop points they will be champions, if we win all our games we will be champions.”
City have experience of holding their nerve in a tight title race as they won their final 14 games three seasons ago to pip Liverpool by a point to win the league.
Guardiola showed his priorities lie with the Premier League and Champions League after leaving out a number of key players for a 3-2 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.
Kevin De Bruyne was one of those restored after being rested as a precaution over an ankle injury.
“When the people talk about my magnificent selection for the FA Cup it is for this (injuries),” added Guardiola. “I didn’t want to take a risk because the Premier League is so important.”
Brighton had won on the road at Arsenal and Tottenham in their previous two games and frustrated the English champions for the first 45 minutes.
But there was little doubt over the outcome once De Bruyne’s driving run through the heart of the Brighton defence teed up Mahrez to slot in his 23rd goal of the season eight minutes into the second period.
Any doubt over the outcome was removed once Foden’s deflected effort from a corner worked to the edge of the box gave City a two-goal cushion.
Silva added a third eight minutes from time with an exquisite cushioned finish from De Bruyne’s layoff at the edge of the area.
“You have to be perfect for us to come here and get anything and we weren’t, said Brighton boss Graham Potter.
City captain Ruben Dias made his return from injury after a two-month absence in the second half.
And the Portuguese’s return might have come at the perfect time for Guardiola as John Stones limped off late on just six days before the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
Nketiah double sinks Chelsea
Eddie Nketiah boosted Arsenal’s bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League as the striker’s double inspired a dramatic 4-2 win against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Nketiah was released by Chelsea as a 16-year-old in 2015 and he exacted a measure of revenge with his first league goals this season.
The 22-year-old put Arsenal ahead early on at Stamford Bridge before Timo Werner equalised.
Mikel Arteta’s side regained the lead trough Emile Smith Rowe, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to draw Chelsea level again.
Nketiah settled a pulsating London derby when he punished shambolic Chelsea defending in the second half and Bukayo Saka bagged the fourth with a stoppage-time penalty.
After losing their last three games, Nketiah’s crucial contribution lifted Arsenal back into the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
The Gunners are in fifth place, behind fourth-placed Tottenham on goal difference with both teams having six games to play.
“It’s a great night and the players deserve it. It has been a tough two weeks but you have to bounce back and show spirit,” Arteta said.
“I love the spirit of these players. When you lose matches you get criticised but for these players it is worth it. They are really growing.”