Manch­ester City look to cap week to re­mem­ber

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LONDON:

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.

‘TOUGH­EST COM­PE­TI­TIONS’

“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

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