Pep Guardiola admits it would be a “huge mistake” for Manchester City to lose focus on their own results as they endeavour to chase down Liverpool.
The reigning Premier League champions find themselves in a position of having to play catch-up in 2018-19.
They have not been as dominant as they were in sweeping to a record-breaking title triumph last term , and find themselves seven points off the pace as a result.
An opportunity to cut that gap to the summit will present itself at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday when table-topping Liverpool pay a visit to Manchester .
Guardiola has called on his players to give their full attention to that fixture, rather than concern themselves with trying to predict where the Reds may come unstuck over the coming weeks.
The Blues boss told Sky Sports : "What you have to do is control yourselves.
"The problem when you are behind, which in my career I was many times, is you just think about what is happening to the people in front of you and forget what you have to do.
"That is a huge mistake. Once that happens, you cannot pick them up. It will be impossible. On Thursday we have an opportunity to win three points and not allow them to do it.
"But after, if you think 'they have to lose in that game' and you go against any team and do not do your job, then you are over."
Piecing together a plan which will allow City to inflict a first league defeat of the season on Liverpool is the challenge now facing Guardiola.
He admits that will not be easy, with Jurgen Klopp’s side having improved as a collective on the back of some impressive recruitment in recent windows .
Guardiola added: "They are solid in behind. In the positional game when the opponents defend deep they had problems attacking them but now they are able to attack them really well.
"In the transition as always, they are so good. In the set-pieces they are a massive, tall team.
"So it is a team that can control all areas. That is why I am saying what I am saying.
"In front they play the same players, but in the middle they have changed a little and especially at the back. They have changed a lot of players at the back.
"And they know each other better. They have had four or five seasons together."