Pep Guardiola insists it is far too early to write off Manchester City's chances of defending their Premier League title, but the champions' fourth defeat in nine league games has emboldened Liverpool's hopes of ending a 29-year wait to win the title.
Jurgen Klopp's men could have a seven-point lead over City with just 14 games left to negotiate with a win against Leicester. Moreover, there is every chance that lead could be extended in the coming week as City host Arsenal and Chelsea either side of a trip to the other side of Liverpool to face Everton in a testing eight-day stretch starting on Sunday.
"Seven points is a lot of points," Guardiola conceded after a shock 2-1 defeat at Newcastle on Tuesday. "Liverpool's advantage is not huge but it's there -- we have to win a lot of games now. But if we want to keep going up as a club we have to accept the challenge. We are in January and we are behind the leaders but there are a lot of trophies and points to play for.
"Next week will be tough with Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea," said Guardiola. "If we want to go up as a club we have to accept that challenge. There are a lot of titles and points to play for."
Unlike Liverpool, who bowed out at the first hurdle of both domestic cups, Guardiola believes the way forward for City to establish themselves as a dominant power in the era of the club's Abu Dhabi funded wealth is silverware on all fronts.
"What are the best teams in the last decade? Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona. These are the three best teams in Europe. Why? Because every season they win the league, every season they win the cups, every season they are there," Guardiola said this week.
"We can -- not get close to them, because it's difficult -- but imitate them. Being in the competition until the last stages. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not, but be there."
Ole salutes 'never-say-die' attitude
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saluted Manchester United's fighting spirit as they rolled back the years with two goals in the final five minutes of a thrilling 2-2 draw against Burnley.
United trailed by two goals with just three minutes left against Burnley on Tuesday, but Paul Pogba got one back with a penalty. Then Ashley Young sent over a 92nd minute cross, Alexis Sanchez's header was saved by Tom Heaton and Victor Lindelof pounced to net the rebound.
"Coming up here, I was stopped so many times saying it was great spirit and great the way they came back," Solskjaer said after the match. "The way they came back was fantastic. Now we have the answer: can they come back if they go one-down or two-down even? I'm very happy with the response."