Pep Guardiola insists the Premier League title race is as much in Manchester City’s hands as it is Liverpool’s.
Defending champions City trail Liverpool by a point at the summit with 27 matches played, the Reds having drawn three of their past four league matches.
The current state of play is not lost on Guardiola but, with 11 matches still to play, he believes the two clubs are now as good as level pegging for the title.
“They’re still leading. So far they are better than us, than Tottenham and the others,” said Guardiola. “We focus on our game but of course we look at what they’re doing and when they don’t win we are happy.
“I guess Liverpool are happy when we don’t win. Same with Tottenham and the others.
“We have a difference of one point and we have 33 points to play for. It’s in your hands. It’s in Liverpool’s hands, but it’s in our hands too.
“The only thing we can do is put them under pressure.”
Sunday’s victory in the EFL Cup final was the first piece in the jigsaw of City’s quadruple bid this season, with the club still in the running in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
“I don’t want to see excuses from my players about tiredness or the amount of games, that is nothing when you have to fight until the end to the retain the title,” he added.
“The power and energy to achieve that is higher than any excuses you can find.
“The last few months of the season, the mentality makes the difference.
“I want to smell in the locker room, at the beginning of the game and during the game, if we really want to win this title.”
City host West Ham on Wednesday and could be boosted by the return of Benjamin Mendy from a knee injury, while Guardiola also offered updates on the fitness of John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho.
“[Mendy] is better,” said Guardiola. “He’s training the last three or four days and the reaction from his knee is good. He could be [fit to play]. We’ll see.
“We were without John and Gabriel [for the EFL Cup final] and they are still out, now it’s Laporte and Ferandinho. I don’t know [if they are longer term].
“Next week they will be out but… I hope John and Gabriel will be back soon.
“Fernandinho cannot play against Schalke because he has been suspended but we are going to take a risk and see after the international break.”