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Manchester City lose sight of Liverpool in Premier League
"It's not life as we know or understand it," says Spock in an episode of the 1960's science fiction series Star Trek. The phrase could well be applied to what has just descended upon the putative extra-terrestrials sporting Manchester City shirts.
Pep Guardiola's stars flopped on Wednesday for the second time in succession. Defeat was an otherworldy thing to his men as they racked up the goals and stacked up the points to finish the 2017/2018 campaign with a record tally of 100 points from their 38 games.
But after Chelsea ended their unbeaten start to the 18/19 campaign on 8 December, Crystal Palace came from behind on 22 December at the Etihad to win 3-2 and on 26 December Leicester City, fresh from their 1-0 victory at Chelsea also on 22 December, shrugged off Bernardo Silva's opener for the champions to claim a 2-1 success.
Chelsea and Leicester City were the sides to inflict the last back-to-back Premier League losses on Guardiola in December 2016.
"We have to accept it," said Guardiola after the defeat at the King Power Stadium. "We have to realise that we have to work harder and try to get immediately one good result and get our confidence back."
While Manchester City muse on their diminishing powers, Liverpool are beaming. Jurgen Klopp's operators have not lost in 19 Premier League outings since August and boast 51 points, seven more than Manchester City. The Merseysiders have scored 43 goals and conceded only seven times.
The pacesetters are six points ahead of second placed Tottenham Hotspur who have won five consecutive games since their 4-2 defeat at Arsenal on 2 December.
Tottenham have been particularly impressive in their last two matches. On 23 December, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane both bagged a brace in the 6-2 annihilation of Everton at Goodison Park. Three days later Son grabbed two more in the 5-0 mauling of Bournemouth at Wembley.
"Amazing," said Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino of Son. "In two words ... un ... believable," quipped the Argentine who will lose the forward for up to a month as he features for South Korea at the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Despite Liverpool's best start in the Premier League era which dates from 1992, Klopp says he wants his players to remain cautious.
"The six-point lead means nothing," said the German. "We have to play Arsenal and Manchester City. It's good that we have six points more than other teams, or seven, but that is pretty much all."
Klopp, who steered Borussia Dortmund to successive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, added: "What we wanted to do all the time was create a basis for the rest of the season. Now the first part of the season is over. We want to create our own history."