With three former Arsenal players in his Manchester City side, Roberto Mancini joked that Wednesday's crucial meeting with Tottenham would be a personal derby for them. But the incentive of a place in the Champions League will be motivation enough for Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. As former Gunners who enjoyed past success against Spurs, they will be prepared for hostility from the visiting supporters in a game City must win if they are to put themselves in the driving seat for fourth place.
But Vieira is staying calm after his dominant display in midfield was crucial to City's 3-1 win against Aston Villa on Saturday. "I'm happy with my own performance. When I first came to the club I had a frustrating time, but now we are in the last two games, I hope I can keep playing like that," he told reporters after the match. "These games are important and I want to help the team achieve what it deserves. After the game the manager was happy because we worked really hard for each other, which is what he asks for in every game.
"It would be fantastic to put one over on Spurs. I expect a bad reception from them, but I don't mind as long as we win the game. "It's always exciting to play Tottenham, but the focus will be on getting the three points." City are in fifth place, a point behind Spurs, but a win against Harry Redknapp's side and then West Ham on Sunday will see them achieve their season's objective of qualifying for Europe's biggest club competition.
"We are getting there," added Vieira. "It's really close and I believe that with the kind of backing we got from the fans on Saturday, we can do it. "This is one of the biggest games of my career. The last two games can decide our season. Some of our players have been at this club for a long time, and worked really hard for this moment, and it would be a fantastic achievement for everyone here if we can play Champions League football."
The Frenchman, 33, also joined City to help improve his chances of making his country's World Cup squad. Hampered by injury, just seven first-team starts might not have helped his cause, but Mancini, the City manager, always believed in his worth and Vieira's performance against Villa was an indication of why he brought him from his former club Inter Milan in January. "I'm happy for Patrick, he was fantastic against Aston Villa and he has great experience," said Mancini.
"He had a lot of problems when he arrived here. He's a tall player and needs to play and work every day. Now I think he has time to make the World Cup - and I hope he does. I asked him to play in a certain position, don't run forward, just stay there and think." email@example.com