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Xherdan Shaqiri has insisted Liverpool's recent slump is "normal" and that the players "are not robots who can always be on 200 per cent".
Jurgen Klopp's side were the model of consistency as they stormed to Premier League glory last term, but a combination of injuries and a failure to adapt to the congested fixture schedule caused by the coronavirus crisis have led to a significant drop in standards.
The Reds' hopes of retaining the trophy will all but evaporate if they fail to beat City at Anfield on Sunday, with a 1-0 loss to Brighton at the same venue last time out marking their latest setback.
Shaqiri is not ready to give up on the title just yet though, and has defended Liverpool's erratic form as they continue to fight for top spot in "the best league in the world".
"We are like normal people who have ups and downs. That's normal. We are not robots who can always be on 200 per cent," the Liverpool winger told the Daily Mail. "The teams in the Premier League are good, even the small teams are difficult to play. The top teams are not always good. It's not just us.
"Maybe we have had a few games where we were not so good. There have been a lot of top teams this season who have not been on top form but we are still there and in the top three or four so we cannot complain it's so bad. I see it differently to people from outside.
"We are one of the best teams in the Premier League and the world. We are normal people and not robots, so we have weak moments sometimes when we are not so good and other teams are getting better all the time and that's also a normal thing in life.
"We are in the best league in the world and this season you can see that everybody can beat everybody. It's going to be an interesting season. The league title is still open. It's going to be special in this way."
Shaqiri has struggled for regular playing time since moving to Anfield from Stoke City in 2018, but he claims to be content with his current role as a squad player.
"If someone is injured or out and you get the chance to make the difference," he said. "I know what I can do and what I can bring to the team. The team knows my qualities. It is also important to me that we are good together in the dressing room and we are a good team.
"I am not a bad guy and I'm a team player and I like to do everything for this team and I have a lot of experience now and I'm happy to help other players."
The Switzerland international added:"I could not be more proud of what I have achieved until now. I never thought in my life I was going to play for the kind of clubs I have played for. I can say I fulfilled my dreams 200 per cent.