White-hot Spurs beat Leicester to keep up Premier League title pressure

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal. (AP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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White-hot Spurs beat Leicester to keep up Premier League title pressure

LONDON: Tottenham kept their bid to gatecrash the Premier League title race alive after Davinson Sanchez’s first goal for the club and Hugo Lloris’s penalty save inspired a 3-1 win over Leicester City on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side took the lead through Sanchez’s first half header, but they were indebted to Lloris for keeping them ahead after he saved Jamie Vardy’s penalty just after the interval at Wembley.
Christian Eriksen netted moments later and although Vardy got one back for the visitors, Son Heung-min’s late strike ensured third-placed Tottenham clinched a fifth win in their last six league games.
“I feel very proud. I think it was a fantastic result,” Pochettino said.
“It was a tough game and Leicester played so well. You always have to fight to the end for big things.
“We were a little bit lucky today, but we deserved it because we fought. I need to congratulate my players because I thought they were fantastic.
“Sometimes you can win games not playing your best. We conceded more chances than usual, but I think the victory is fair,” Pochettino said.
“The effort was fantastic, with the circumstances that happened in this game and also this season,” he added.
The north Londoners are five points off the top of the table as they try to catch pace-setters Liverpool and Manchester City, who both won again this weekend.
While Tottenham are still outsiders to win their first English title since 1961, their ability to stay in contention, despite injuries to key players Harry Kane and Dele Alli suggests they should not be completely written off.
The battling win was good preparation for hosting Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Leicester have lost four of their last five league games, increasing the pressure on under-fire boss Claude Puel.
“It’s disappointing and again we are left with not a good feeling. We should’ve had the game between our hands with a lot of chances,” he said.
“We created a lot of good moves with a lot of good intentions and we didn’t find good finishing. We had all the opportunities to win this game but we couldn’t finish.
“It leaves me with mixed feelings as we showed good quality but I’m very aggrieved with all these chances we had.”
Puel has reportedly lost the support of several influential players, including England striker Vardy, who was left on the bench for the first 60 minutes before coming on to miss the penalty with his first touch.
Insisting he was happy for Vardy to take the penalty, Puel said: “I gave him the opportunity. I said if he felt good he could take it.
“Maybe it was not a good thing, but we had a lot of chances, not just with this penalty.”
And the only blemish on Tottenham’s day was Son’s booking for simulation, the South Korean going down after an incisive raid, which left Tottenham furious when his penalty appeal ended in a booking for diving after Maguire stuck out a leg to halt him.
Still angry about the decision after the match, Pochettino fumed: “It’s unbelievable. I am a person who accepts the mistakes, but today it was so clear. I told Michael Oliver.
“If we are being targeted (by referees), I don’t understand why. We are nice people.”


Old Trafford holds no fears for Pep Guardiola and title-chasing Manchester City

Updated 23 April 2019
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Old Trafford holds no fears for Pep Guardiola and title-chasing Manchester City

  • Victory for City in the Premier League clash will keep the reigning champions on course for the title
  • City boast an impressive run of five wins and a draw in their last seven league visits to Old Trafford

MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Old Trafford is no longer a “scary” place to visit ahead of Wednesday’s derby at the home of Manchester United.
Victory for City in the Premier League clash will keep the reigning champions on course to become the first team in English football history to win a treble of all three major domestic trophies in the same season.
City boast an impressive run of five wins and a draw in their last seven league visits to Old Trafford — a sequence that includes 6-1 and 3-0 victories.
Guardiola, however, refused to use that form guide as a reason for confidence, although he accepted a trip to Old Trafford was not as daunting as in previous years.
“I don’t make theories about what happened in the past for what is going to happen in the future,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.
“Every game is completely different. The reason why is the fact this club in the last decade grew a lot and it is not scary to go there.
“Before it was maybe more difficult. The players Manchester City had in the last decade made this game a little bit more equal.”
Man City can move one point clear of title rivals Liverpool at the top of the table heading into their final three games of the season with victory over United.
This latest derby takes place against the backdrop of United’s woeful 4-0 loss away to Everton on Sunday, a lacklustre display that was roundly criticized.
Guardiola, however, did not expect the Goodison Park performance to have a major bearing on the derby.
“A little bit, yeah but even a good result, the confidence will be higher,” said Guardiola when asked if United’s defeat by Everton made his task harder.
“It is a derby and all the times we play against United, the derbies are always special games and the players do their best for the fans, the club.”
The Catalan boss added: “I saw the game, I imagine what will happen against us. The game against Everton is over.”
City will visit Old Trafford without inspirational playmaker Kevin De Bruyne who suffered a hamstring injury in the weekend win over Tottenham Hotspur that came just days after a dramatic Champions League semifinal loss to Spurs ended hopes of a quadruple.
It is the latest problem to hamper the Belgian in a campaign that has seen him plagued by knee trouble and Guardiola said De Bruyne would required a concerted training program ahead of next season.
“Muscular problems, he had two or three,” recalled Guardiola.
“In England you don’t have time to make a preparation.
“You play every three days that is not the best way. You have to make a good pre-season. Now he has to pay attention, the little details, see if he can play one or two more games this season and next season make a good pre-season.”
Meanwhile Guardiola denied claims that winger Riyad Mahrez — the club’s £60 million ($78 million, 69 million euros) record signing from Leicester last season — is unhappy at his lack of first-team opportunities and keen to move on from City.
“Riyad will be with us for the next season here and the next one and the next one,” he said.
“I don’t need to speak with him. He will be with us next season,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added. “He is a player for us. We are delighted with him and the way he plays.
“He is happy we are here. Everyone knows the competition we have here. He came last season to stay longer. It is not necessary to speak to him.”