Liverpool players celebrate after James Milner, center, scored the opening goal during the against Arsenal. Photo: Tim Ireland/AP Photo

Ian Rush believes Manchester City’s desire to win the Champions League could hand his former club, Liverpool, an golden opportunity to win the English league title for the first time since 1990.

Rush, 57, Liverpool’s all-time record goal-scorer and a member of the last Liverpool team to win the league, hopes that City will switch their attention to the Champions League once the knock-out stages get under way in February.

‘They want the Champions League, so hopefully they focus on that a little more,’ he said.

City can return to the top of the table today with victory over Southampton at the Etihad. But Rush believes it is crucial the likes of Liverpool keep the pressure on City until the latter stages of Europe’s elite tournament get under way.

‘Last season, City weren’t put under any real pressure in the Premier League. This season, Liverpool and the others at the top of the table will want to keep up with them. They have got a chance. It is important to keep City under pressure and see how they react.

‘Liverpool are capable of a top two finish this season, that is realistic.’

City manager Pep Guardiola recently played down their chances of winning the Champions League for the first time. They return to European action on Wednesday at home to Shaktar Donesk. City currently top Group F, with six points from three games.

City supporters have an unusual lack of affinity with the competition, booing the Uefa anthem and leaving swathes of empty seats for home games.

City fans believe Uefa and Financial Fair Play have worked against the club, stopping it benefiting from the investment of their rich owners. City fell foul of FFP rules in 2014 and were hit with a £49million fine, as well as restrictions on their transfer spending and squad size.

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