LIVERPOOL: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola acknowledged his team faces a battle just to secure a top-four Premier League finish following their 1-0 defeat at Liverpool.
The New Year's Eve loss at Anfield, decided by Georginio Wijnaldum's early header, left City 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Asked if City face a battle to hold onto their place in the top four, with North London sides Arsenal and Tottenham also vying for the spots, Guardiola replied: "Definitely. It will be very difficult for all the teams."
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With Chelsea registering a record-equalling 13th successive victory against Stoke City, Guardiola conceded it was difficult to envisage his side reeling the West London club in.
"They've won 12 or 13 games in a row so it's true that dropping points is not easy," Guardiola told reporters. "But we start the second leg [of the season], so with all due respect for the other teams, we have to focus on ourselves and try to do what we have to do to win the games."
He even went as far as to suggest that City could switch their priorities to the Champions League and the FA Cup if a title tilt appears beyond them.
"There are many, many things to fight (for): the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Champions next season. When it's finished, with one month or two months left, we're going to see what is our position and in that moment we're going to decide what our target is."
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City are next in action on Monday, when they welcome Burnley to the Etihad Stadium, while Liverpool will go in search of a fifth successive league victory at third-bottom Sunderland.
Liverpool's win took them back to within six points of Chelsea and manager Jurgen Klopp's words suggested his side is relishing their role as leaders of the chasing pack.
"We cannot have a look at Chelsea. Obviously they are unbelievably strong. They're on an outstanding run. They won now 13 games already. Not bad!" he said.
"But can you imagine how annoying it is when you win 13 games in a row and there's still one team only six points behind? But I'm sure they don't think about this, so why should we?"
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The hosts lost captain Jordan Henderson to a heel problem midway through the second period, with Divock Origi taking his place.
Klopp said the injury did not affect the same heel that caused Henderson problems last season, but his assessment of the issue was downbeat.
"In this moment there's a little bit of pain in the heel," said Klopp. "If Hendo is limping there's probably a little bit more pain [than there would be for another player]. We have to see. I don't know exactly in this moment."
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