London: The third act of Manchester City and Tottenham’s trilogy has some living up to do after a Champions League classic saw Spurs prevail on away goals to reach the semifinals.
However, their Premier League meeting on Saturday has huge implications for both City’s bid to win the title and Spurs’ hopes of just qualifying for the Champions League again next season.
Pep Guardiola’s men are five games away from becoming the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League.
However, it is Liverpool who lead by two points as things stand having played a game more than their title rivals.
City were on course for an unprecedented quadruple until falling short in the most dramatic fashion in the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. With the sides level at 4-4 on aggregate, Raheem Sterling scored the goal that would have sent City through in stoppage time, only for a VAR review to rule the goal out for offside.
“We have to stand up, we have to react,” said Guardiola, adding, “We fought a lot in the last nine or 10 months for the Premier League. We are still there, it is in our hands. Of course it is tough, but we have to do it until the end.”
Guardiola could afford the luxury of leaving Fernandinho, Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones on the bench in midweek.
By contrast, Tottenham remain without Harry Kane and are now desperately short in midfield after Moussa Sissoko limped off midway through the first-half on Wednesday. And should they lose a fifth straight away league game, third-placed Spurs could easily find themselves outside the top four come the end of the weekend.
Such was the drama at the Etihad that Liverpool’s serene progress to the Champions League semifinals with a 4-1 win in Porto went largely unnoticed.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have now won eight consecutive games in all competitions and do not look likely to crumble under the pressure of delivering a first top-flight title for the first time in 29 years should City slip up.