Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players they will need an “incredible” points total to retain the Premier League title.
Guardiola’s side are nine points clear of second-placed Liverpool after the Reds beat Leicester on Thursday.
City have 14 league games left, while Liverpool have a match in hand to close the gap further.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the Leicester game that there was no chance of catching the champions but Guardiola is aware of Liverpool’s firepower and their ability to amass big points totals.
Liverpool racked up 99 points when they won the title two years ago and 97 when they finished as runners-up in 2019.
The Reds can still reach 96 points this season and Guardiola believes City will have to match them blow for blow to win the title race.
“We have made an incredible run in the Premier League — 14 games, 13 victories and one draw, that is fantastic,” Guardiola said on Friday.
“And Liverpool are still there around the corner, that shows how good our opponent is.
“If we want to fight to win the Premier League, we will have to win an incredible amount of points against these opponents that we have faced in the last seasons many times. There is no doubt about that.
“The margin to Liverpool is nothing. We have to win a lot of games — a lot — with many points, more than 90 points, to arrive at 95 or 96, to be champions. I’m pretty sure of that, definitely.”
City continue to earn plaudits for their eye-catching style and relentless consistency in pursuit of a fourth top-flight title in five years.
But Guardiola is constantly striving to improve and says he could never achieve perfection.
“Never a team will be perfect,” he said. “We are not perfect, we are far away from being perfect because as human beings we are imperfect.
“Perfection doesn’t exist in sports, especially in football, which is not an individual sport. Many things can be adjusted.”
City travel to struggling Norwich on Saturday and, underlining Guardiola’s desire for improvement, he is still demanding more from in-form Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez.
Mahrez has scored in seven successive games for the club, but Guardiola said: “Last season was the best moment for Riyad.
“Still he can do better to reach the level he played at in the last four, five, six months of last season, when he was outstanding. He can do better.”