Kyle Walker thinks Liverpool “deserve to be top” of the Premier League, with Manchester City caught standing still since winning a second successive domestic crown back in May.
Liverpool already hold an eight-point advantage over second-placed Leicester in the top flight after just 14 fixtures, with City three points further back in third.
The Reds have won 13 games and drawn once, extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 31 matches in the process, with a Merseyside derby clash against Everton up next on Wednesday.
City, meanwhile, have looked a shadow of the side that won a domestic treble last season, with a 2-2 draw at Newcastle on Saturday highlighting their defensive fragility once again.
Pep Guardiola’s men must beat Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday to stay within sight of Liverpool, with Walker happy to give “credit where it is due” to City’s “fantastic” rivals.
The 29-year-old doesn’t think the defending champions have changed much since last term, while other teams have come up with a blueprint to reduce their attacking threat, but he is not ready to concede that the title race is over just yet.
“The opposition are probably working us out a bit,” he told reporters ahead of City’s trip to Burnley. “Or the opposition are getting better. We are still the same squad.
“We have changed very little. We are still adopting a professional mentality around the place.
“We have to take our hats off to Liverpool. They have been fantastic and credit where it is due. They deserve to be top, but it is not over until it is over.”
Walker went on to express his belief that City will need to embark on an extended winning run in order to reign in Liverpool, with the collective talent within the Etihad Stadium dressing room more than capable of turning things around.
“We have the ability in the dressing room to go and catch anyone on our day,” he added. “We have to take it game by game and keep chalking them off, getting three points, and moving on to the next one.
“Will it take a run of 14 straight wins again? That is what it will take. That’s a fact.”
After their latest Premier League outing, Guardiola will prepare his side for a crucial derby showdown at home to Manchester United on Saturday.