Fernandinho says Manchester City are concentrating on overtaking Leicester City in second place rather than looking further up the table to Liverpool.
City travel to Arsenal for their Premier League fixture this weekend, and they go into that game in third place, 17 points behind the league leaders.
It was thought that this season’s Premier League would be a two-horse race between City and Liverpool, but Pep Guardiola’s side now looks unlikely to make it three league titles in a row.
Article continues below
- Are Man Utd finally back on track or were 'Big Six' wins just another false dawn?
- Arteta casts shadow over Ljungberg as Arsenal's potential new manager arrives with Man City
- Injuries now the only threat to Liverpool's title charge as Wijnaldum limps off in Watford win
- Are Sancho and Zaha needed? Chelsea's attack finally missing Hazard after another shock home defeat
“It’s been really tough, really hard for us,” said Fernandinho.
“I would have preferred to be closer to Liverpool. Maybe we thought after four titles one season, we believed something we are not. The reality of sport is to make you [win] again and again. Sometimes you have to live it.
“There isn’t a thought in my mind about Liverpool. It is far away. First, we have to think about [second place] Leicester.
“It helps Liverpool that they haven’t won this trophy for a long time. They will smell it now.”
The midfielder has been used at centre-back by Guardiola this season, and though the team has struggled to keep up with Liverpool, the Brazilian does not believe his change of role is the reason for this poor form.
Captain and central defender Vincent Kompany left the club at the end of last season, while Aymeric Laporte has been out injured, but with the arrival of Spanish midfielder Rodri it was always likely that Fernandinho would be used as a centre-back option anyway.
The lack of depth at the back has been blamed for City’s downturn, but the 34-year-old doesn’t think this has been a factor.
“I don’t think I am being missed in midfield,” he said.
“Rodri is playing really well there. Of course, we are a little bit different but he’s doing really well.
“The job you do at the back is so important as you help to defend and attack. The culture is that whoever scores goals gets the spotlight but it depends on everyone.
‘You have to protect your defensive line and when you have the ball try to give players in front the ball to attack and create chances.”