Vincent Kompany claims Manchester City’s crunch clash with Liverpool is not the title-defining game many people believe.
Defending champions City will fall 10 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool if they lose tonight’s much-hyped encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
City have ground to make up after losing three of their previous five games but Kompany feels a good performance, rather than the result itself, holds the key to the second half of the season.
The City captain said: “I am not interested in the outcome just yet.
“I’ve been long enough in the game to know how important this game is but, at the same time, know this is not the all-defining game – as much as people want to put it that way.
“So many things can happen. Who would have thought we would have three difficult games in December? There is nothing to say that with circumstances, injuries and everything, that can’t happen to any team in this league.
“Therefore this game, as much as we want to and need to win it, it is not the all-defining game. If we play how we can then I will feel very comfortable despite the result, whatever it is, to go into every other competition and try to win it.
“Even if we don’t win this game we will be going for so many titles this season. That is the most important for our team. Just to get back to who we are.”
Kompany, who has won three Premier League titles, insists there is no shame in being beaten by a better team – as long as City have given their best.
The 32-year-old defender said: “If another team is better than you, fair play, shake their hands and be happy for them if they deserve it.
A couple of weeks ago we were a point behind and then (the talk) was if we lose, then it’s four points, can you close that gap? It’s all only talk. It has nothing to do with the reality.Jurgen Klopp
“If not, the biggest regret would be to not achieve our standards.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, insisted City remain the best team in the world, but was also keen to push aside the hype, saying he saw it “as a normal game.”
“It’s a really strong football team with an outstanding manager,” insisted Klopp.
“We have to be prepared as good as possible, we have to be brave, we have to be full of desire, angry, like in all the other games.
“But with the knowledge the opponent is, for me, still the best team in the world. Only the points changed, not the preparation for the game.”
Liverpool go into the clash having won three of the last four meetings between the sides but their last league trip to the Etihad ended in a 5-0 defeat in September 2017.
Klopp and opposite number Pep Guardiola have both talked up the strength of their opposition, with the City boss returning the compliment by hailing Liverpool as the world’s premier side.
“He said, ‘in the moment’,” said Klopp. “Yes, with the record we had in December, we had a good moment and we have a very, very, very good football team.
“A couple of weeks ago we were a point behind and then (the talk) was if we lose, then it’s four points, can you close that gap? It’s all only talk. It has nothing to do with the reality.”