(Reuters) – Manchester City’s lead over Liverpool isn’t enough to guarantee them the Premier League title, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday, adding that his team may need 95 or 96 points to claim a second straight league trophy.
City are nine points clear of Liverpool after 24 games but their rivals can cut that gap to six if they win their game in hand.
On Thursday, Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp played down his side’s chances of catching City, saying they do not “smell our breath”.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s league trip to relegation-threatened Norwich City, Guardiola told reporters: “We have to fight to win the league and if we want to win, we’ll have to win an incredible amount of points against an incredible opponent we’ve faced many times.
“The margin against Liverpool is nothing. We have to win a lot — more than 90 points. 95, 96 to be champions.”
Last season, City secured the title with 86 points, 12 better than neighbours Manchester United.
Guardiola’s men will come up against a buoyant Norwich side who have collected seven points from their last three games in a sign of revival under manager Dean Smith, who replaced Daniel Farke earlier this season.
“It’s a new manager, new game. We lost two seasons ago there, of course Norwich have momentum. It’s excellent… we play them at their best moment of the season,” said Guardiola.
The Spaniard also heaped praise on winger Riyad Mahrez, who has scored eight goals in his last seven games.
“The quality of the finishing, the personality of the penalties. When he’s close in the box his ability, his technique because he’s not so strong so he needs the speed. He has this quality,” said Guardiola before adding that the Algerian could do even better.
“He can do better this season to reach the level he had in the last four-six months of last season. It was outstanding, the way he played and produced. He can do that.”
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)