City to attempt to overtake United in Premiership title race

AFP, Saturday 31 Mar 2012

Arsenal head into Saturday's game looking to notch their eighth consecutive Premiership victory

Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure (Photo: Reuters)

Manchester City linchpin Yaya Toure has urged his team-mates to emulate Barcelona as they attempt to overhaul Manchester United in the Premier League's gripping title climax.

After leading the table for most of the season, City have slipped three points behind their bitter cross-town rivals in recent weeks with only eight games of the season remaining.

On paper United have by far the less demanding run-in, with City still facing demanding fixtures which include trips to in-form Arsenal and Newcastle as well as Saturday's home tie with Sunderland.

However Toure wants City to learn from his experience at Barcelona in 2009-2010 season, when the club pipped Real Madrid for the title after mounting a sprint to the finish which included a win over Real at the Bernabeu.

"What we did at Barca was a perfect example of what we need to do now," Toure said, while acknowledging that City's task would be harder.

"I think now will be more difficult because United are not the type of team who you can give anything.

"When you look at the programme they have, they have easier games than us. Maybe their only difficult game is away to us.

"So it will be very hard, but to keep up the pressure we have to win all of our games. We have to fight until the finish, and if we win the Premier League this year it would be amazing for the club and the fans."

City drew 1-1 with Stoke last weekend, but will be looking to maintain their astonishing 100 percent home record against Martin O'Neill's Black Cats.

A victory on Saturday would see City return to the top of the table on goal difference, with United not playing until Monday's trip to relegation threatened Blackburn, one of only two teams to beat the Red Devils at home this season.

"Blackburn is always a difficult type of game," warned United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. "It's always a bit feisty and has a local derby feeling about it.

"Last season we came from a goal down to win the league. We expect a difficult game—that's the way all the games will be."

Elsewhere this weekend, Arsenal will seek to tighten their grip on third place by plunging Queens Park Rangers further into the relegation mire when the Gunners travel to Loftus Road.


Arsenal head into the game looking to notch their eighth consecutive victory in the league against a side who are fighting for their livelihoods according to Rangers captain Joey Barton.

"This is more than a game of football now," Barton warned. "The next eight games govern our futures.

"We're as desperate for the points as they are—for totally different reasons obviously. But there are livelihoods on the line here.

"People's careers are on the line. I'm not sure that's the case at Arsenal to be honest."

A win for Arsenal on Saturday would leave Tottenham needing victory against Swansea at White Hart Lane on Sunday to avoid falling further behind their north London rivals in the race for third place.

Swansea have been one of the revelations of the season so far, winning plaudits for an attractive style of football that has been achieved with a squad built for a fraction of the cost of the Premier League front-runners.

"It should be a very good game of football," Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers said. "Tottenham will want the points because they are playing for the Champions League but we are here to fight as well.

"We will go there looking to perform on Sunday because we will be fighting for every single point right through until the end of the season."

Fifth-placed Chelsea meanwhile travel to Aston Villa on Saturday knowing that only victory will do as they attempt to claw back a five-point deficit between themselves and fourth-placed Spurs.

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is likely to rotate his squad once more with next week's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Benfica looming.


Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated):

Saturday: Aston Villa v Chelsea, Everton V West Brom, Fulham v Norwich, Manchester City v Sunderland, QPR v Arsenal, Wigan v Stoke, Wolves v Bolton

Sunday: Newcastle v Liverpool (1230), Tottenham v Swansea (1500)

Monday: Blackburn v Manchester United (1900)

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