Jurgen Klopp has dismissed suggestions that Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City is a test of their Premier League title credentials.
And the German concedes his side could well lose even should they put on an impressive performance at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The Reds head to Manchester in second place in the standings and just a point behind their hosts, who are in the familiar role of pace-setters.
However, Klopp was keen to play down the significance this early-season meeting between two sides who have regularly duelled for top honours in recent years.
He said: “A lot of things can happen. We play bad and lose, possible. We play bad and win? I would say it’s unlikely, it’s pretty much not possible against City.
“We play very good and don’t win, it’s possible, that’s football. We play very good and win. And they all would happen to exactly the same team.
“This team doesn’t have to pass a test now or something like that, the direction we are going is really the right one, that’s obvious. We are not perfect, we saw that.
“The game before the last Premier League game was Toulouse, we were not good there. I made a lot of changes so it goes really on my responsibility but still we were not good.
“And against Luton we were not good, got a point, all fine, could’ve won the game, but if we win that game we were not good that night.
“But in a lot of games this season we were good and deserved what we got in a lot of different situations. So with 10 men [at Newcastle] we were outstanding for a team one man down, with nine men [at Tottenham] we were exceptional with two men down.
“These kinds of things, that’s all us and has nothing to do with the next game. Of course we play that game but it’s not a test of how close can we get to City.
“It’s just a super-exciting football game, one of those I would watch wherever I am on the planet, I would, because why wouldn’t you watch this game?
“But for us it’s not about being that kind of excited, we have to prepare it properly and we know we have to be at our best to get a chance. We have that, it’s about us to take it.”
Liverpool have not claimed three Premier League points at the Etihad Stadium since a 4-1 victory there in Klopp’s first season at the helm, eight years ago.
But the Reds boss is confident that hoodoo can be broken, or is at least in a more positive mindset than he was ahead of the last trip there – a 4-1 thrashing in April.
He added: “Our record is not great, right? What I know, the longer a run is going, the more likely it is that it ends.
“We had that as well, it was Burnley I think [beating us at Anfield]. They are extremely strong, there’s nothing I could say that makes them weaker otherwise I would say it, constantly repeat it.
“It’s a tough game but whatever happened last year, two or three years ago, is just a memory, it’s nothing else. We have to be ready for tomorrow and that’s what we try to be.
“If we are that, as I’ve said millions of times, if we can be really uncomfortable for them then we have a chance.
“If they feel comfortable in their game, there’s no team who can beat them. But if you can change that then there’s a chance and we have to take it.
“But I like it, it’s much nicer. I can’t remember my feelings last season before the game, but I probably was not massively optimistic and thought we go there and change everything there in that game.
“It feels like we are a bit closer, that’s good, but on matchday you still have to win the decisive battles on the pitch. For that you have to be close enough for these decisive duels and for that you have to be compact.
“And then on top of that you have to play football yourself, a lot. That’s all challenging but all exciting as well so let’s see.”