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Liverpool FC unknown factor can drive Man City and Pep Guardiola on

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What cannot be denied is that Liverpool have a serious advantage over Manchester City and a Premier League lead greater than any other team has ever had after eight games.

It may be the case that this season's City are not consistent enough to challenge for the title, or that this season's Liverpool have a new resolve that allows them - depending on your take on the psychological aspect of the race - either to grind out more wins or to show more resolve when leading the league.

All City can do is try to replicate the levels they have found for the last two years and then wait to see if Liverpool can avoid the problems they have run into.

The Champions League winners have started ominously for the Blues; if there was sense behind Darren Gough's recent comments that City have looked the better of the two sides despite their inferior points total, then as Jurgen Klopp said after Dean Henderson had thrown one in for Sheffield United, it is better to win 1-0 eight times than 8-0 once.

City, by contrast, were surely weaker than they have looked against Norwich and Wolves this season.

From nowhere, Guardiola's side pulled off the victory that could eventually be claimed as the result that denied Liverpool the title, 100 points and an unbeaten season but the months of relentless wins (Newcastle excepted) that followed was predicted by nobody.

Pep Guardiola fumed after the Crystal Palace defeat before Christmas and was resigned as he talked of the team's physical and mental difficulties after losing to Leicester on Boxing Day.
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