‘Wounded’ Manchester City ready for do-or-die clash with Liverpool, says Vincent Kompany
LONDON: Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany admitted that the Premier League champions’ pride has been wounded by their recent shock run of three defeats in four Premier League games to fall seven points behind league leaders Liverpool.
But ahead of the visit of Jurgen Klopp’s men to the Etihad on Thursday, Kompany issued a rallying cry to the City squad and fans to keep fighting to become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League.
“We shouldn’t focus too much on points at the moment, we know if we can play to our potential we are a good team,” Kompany told City’s website.
“Our pride has been hurt over the last few weeks but we have everything to play for and it depends on us.”
City bounced back from consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester with a 3-1 win on Sunday at Southampton to move back into second above Tottenham.
However, City have only won one of seven meetings with Liverpool during Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge.
Kompany, though, called on his side to avenge a painful Champions League quarterfinal exit to Liverpool last season.
“It’s one of those key games you live for. Every living soul that comes into the stadium on Thursday has to be ready to fight and give it to them,” added the Belgian.
“And we should be able to pull everything out of the locker for that game.”
Another team with some soul-searching to do this week is Tottenham Hotspur.
The 3-1 home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday was utterly deflating for Pochettino’s side, who had thrillingly moved into second place on the back of a 6-2 defeat of Everton and a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth.
Their time spent as the nearest challengers to leaders Liverpool, however, lasted just four days and they travel to Cardiff City on Tuesday desperately seeking a win to revive the belief they can last the pace in the title race.
Pochettino, the Spurs manager, cited mental fatigue as a possible reason for his players’ lethargic second half display against Wolves and you could see his point.
Likewise, riding high until two weeks ago, Arsenal’s season has taken a sudden downturn that has thrown the focus firmly onto the club’s plans for the January transfer window.
Prior to the visit to Southampton in mid-December, the Gunners had gone 22 games without defeat and while form had been more patchy since the end of October, the trajectory of Unai Emery’s side was undeniably on the up.
Defeat at St. Mary’s Stadium, however, triggered a run that has brought just one win in five games, including Saturday’s humiliating 5-1 defeat at league leaders Liverpool.
With Chelsea winning at Crystal Palace a day later, Arsenal now sit five points off the top four and anything less than three points in the home meeting with fellow London side Fulham on Tuesday will further undermine the club’s hopes of reclaiming a place in the Champions League.
Arsenal have started to appear increasingly vulnerable at the back, a weakness that was ruthlessly exposed by Jurgen Klopp’s side at Anfield.
Mustafi returned for the Liverpool game yet while the changes to the back-line have done nothing to help the team establish some stability, Bernd Leno insists injuries cannot be used as an excuse following the Liverpool defeat.
“I don’t think that was the difference,” said the goalkeeper.
“Of course we conceded five goals but I think we as a team made too many mistakes. We have enough quality, even when somebody is injured...injuries were not the problem.
“We have to look forward because we have another important game on Tuesday. It’s the first game of the year and on Tuesday we want to beat Fulham at home. We need to win.”