Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero believes the 14-point gap between the defending champions and Premier League leaders Liverpool is “too hard” to overturn.
He said that City need to now concentrate purely on earning a top-four finish.
“Now, Liverpool is too hard. We have to focus just on winning because we need to play Champions League next season.
“We have to play the same way and see what happens,” said the Argentine, City’s all-time top scorer.
City beat Sheffield United 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday but remain far adrift of Liverpool, who have an extra game in hand.
Juergen Klopp’s unbeaten side had earlier beaten Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 at Anfield.
Pep Guardiola, City’s manager, declined to declare the title race was over but repeated his view that it was pointless to even discuss the issue.
“It’s unrealistic to think about it. When a team has the numbers that Liverpool has, why should we think about it when we are 14 or 17 behind?
“(We have to) prepare, play good, better, be as close as possible, play the knockout (cup competitions) and prepare for next season. Next season will be here and, hopefully, we can do better,” he said.
Asked whether it was now tough after two title-winning years to motivate his team for the more modest goal of qualifying for the Champions League, Guardiola said: “The best motivation is to try to play good, win games, that’s the best.”
The Spaniard could not resist taking aim at the Premier League fixture list, which saw his team play at Wolves on Friday before being in action 48 hours later.
City are next in action on New Year’s Day when they host Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton at the Etihad.
“Now, I must say thank you to the Premier League for giving us three days for the next game. We appreciate it,” he said.