Pep Guardiola's men will become the first team in the league's 26-year history to wrap up the title with six games to spare if they beat United at the Etihad - a fitting end to a season of nearly total dominance in the league.
By the time Gundogan traipsed off after 57 minutes the game having virtually passed him by to be replaced by Sterling, City was losing 3-0 and its players were struggling to clear their minds after Liverpool's devastating first-half display.
A little sad for fans and players, we will try to be in a good mood next Tuesday.
"But we lost it so for the fans it's hard, but maybe we're going to get more credit if we are able to win the Premier League "OK, how tough it was". We will convince ourselves tomorrow", said the three-time Champions League victor, once as a player and twice as a coach of Barcelona. "But it's impossible when opponents arrive four times and score three goals [like United] - there is no system that can stop that, so it is so complicated".
Following the final whistle, Guardiola talked about how one has to remain consistent when playing the top sides, as well as expressing concern that this defeat might affect their confidence going forward.
"He's so strong, he knows how we like him. And we didn't close it".
"As well as we played in the first half, you have realise that sometimes it is not enough".
"This kind of defence: dominant, not too deep, being in the right area of the pitch so if we win the ball there is a big opportunity for us to use the space they have to leave open", he said. We could be better but we could be worse.
It marked the first time Guardiola has suffered consecutive defeats as a manager since 2015 during his time with Bayern Munich and there may be concerns his rotational decisions to rest key players for their UEFA Champions League quarter-final may have backfired with a dent in the overall squad morale. "We are going to pick a team to win the game, there is no doubt about that".
While the margin of victory was emphatic, Klopp said he had been in the game too long to think the contest was over.
"Yeah, it can happen", the City manager said when asked if what happened in the derby could be imprinted on the memory against Liverpool.
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