Julian Alvarez shoots as Liverpool's Alisson Becker makes a save.
CNN  — 

The English Premier League title race is reaching its crucial stage or, as former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson used to describe it, “squeaky bum time” – and Manchester City’s 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool has ensured Pep Guardiola’s men are still in the running.

Three second-half goals from City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday helped secure a comfortable and deserved win for the home team against a side that in previous seasons had been City’s only challenger for the league title.

But this season’s Liverpool team is far from the vintage of recent campaigns, and it looks like Jurgen Klopp’s side will struggle to finish in the top four, which the Reds will need to do if they are to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Even without 42-goal striker Erling Haaland, City was prolific, responding to Mohamed Salah’s 17th minute opener with goals from Julián Álvarez, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gündogan, and the brilliant Jack Grealish.

City, the two-time defending league champion, needed to win to keep pace with league leader Arsenal. The Gunners also enjoyed a convincing win on Saturday, beating Leeds United 4-1 to maintain an eight-point advantage at the top of the table.

If both teams continue to perform as they have been doing, the tie that could be crucial in the title race is the match between the two at the Etihad on April 26, after which City will have only six fixtures remaining and Arsenal five.