Manchester City look to cap week to remember
Manchester City will have the chance to put daylight between themselves and their title rivals when the Premier League leaders try to cap a memorable week by beating Middlesbrough at Eastlands today.
City lead on goal difference from Arsenal and Liverpool, with Chelsea just a point further back.
Arsenal are not in action until tomorrow when they face Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby, with Liverpool also at home to Watford that day.
Tuesday finally saw City get the better of Barcelona as they beat the Spanish giants 3-1 in the Champions League.
It was a particularly sweet victory for City manager Pep Guardiola, who made his name as both a player and coach at Barcelona. The match also saw City fans’ favourite Sergio Aguero lead the attack after he was controversially left out of the starting side for the 4-0 loss in Barcelona a fortnight ago-a move that sparked concerns regarding his Eastlands future under Guardiola.
But the City boss has insisted he wants Aguero to stay and the 28-yearold Argentina forward said: “I’m never angry. I respect every manager’s decision. “He said it was a tactical thing and I obviously respect that.”
Middlesbrough are managed by Guardiola’s fellow Spaniard Aitor Karanka and he for one was not surprised by City’s midweek win.
“They have amazing players and they have all the alternatives so (for them) it was just another game,” said Karanka, whose Boro side beat Bournemouth 2-0 last weekend.
Chelsea, fresh from a 2-0 win over Southampton and without the distraction of European football, will bid to keep pace with City at home to Everton.
Since reverting to a back three, manager Antonio Conte has seen his side keep four clean sheets but the Italian has no time for title talk at this stage of the season.
“In this moment it’s not important to look at the table. If you ask me a prediction of our championship now, it’s very difficult to talk about,” he said.
Arsenal have not lost in any competition since the opening day of the season and their midweek 3-2 win away to Bulgaria’s Ludogorets, with Mesut Ozil’s superb solo goal completing a comeback from 2-0 down, has left the Gunners well-placed to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Having played 75 minutes against Ludogorets, Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey who has spent several weeks out with a hamstring injury-is eager to start against Spurs at the Emirates, saying: “Of course I’m ready.”
By contrast, Spurs were lacklustre in a 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League at Wembley.
They may boast the Premier League’s lone remaining unbeaten record and are just three points off top spot, but Spurs have not won any of their last six games in all competitions.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, believes his side may be paying he price for fighting on two fronts.
“To play the Champions League and Premier League, two of the toughest competitions in the world, it’s good to analyse how we deal with that,” he said.
Jose Mourinho will hope his Manchester United side, already eight points adrift of top spot, can provide him with some respite at second-bottom Swansea on Sunday following a mediocre display in a 2-1 Europa League loss away to Fenerbahce. Mourinho, set to serve a touchline ban at the Liberty Stadium, accused his team of treating the match like a “summer friendly”.
Basement club Sunderland travel to Bournemouth on Saturday in search of their first win of the season, with champions Leicester at home to West Brom.
West Ham will hope there is no repeat of the crowd trouble that has marred their recent home games when Stoke visit the London Stadium. — AFP
MANCHESTER: File photo, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure waits for play to resume during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England. With a 110-word apology, Yaya Toure is hoping to mend his relationship with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and regain his place in the team. — AP