x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

No rest for Manchester City stars against Tottenham

The surprise defeat at Everton at the weekend has cost manager Mancini, a chance to rest players against Tottenham Hotspur ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final.

Tottenham's Peter Crouch tries a spectacular effort against Manchester City when the two sides met in August.
Tottenham's Peter Crouch tries a spectacular effort against Manchester City when the two sides met in August.

MANCHESTER // The surprise defeat at Everton at the weekend has cost Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, a chance to rest players against Tottenham Hotspur tonight ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final.

With a six-point advantage in the race for the Premier League's final Champions League spot and just three games remaining, it is hard to see out-of-form Tottenham clawing back the deficit even if they manage to win tonight's Premier League tussle with City at Eastlands.

A home win will end all debate on the matter though, which is why Mancini wants to get the job done. The Italian's worry is that his key men may end up tired, which will hamper preparations for the club's first cup final appearance in 30 years, against Stoke City.

"I don't think we have a problem for fourth spot," he said. "We still have three games left and we only need three points But it was important we beat Everton because we have to prepare well for the final.

"Now I shall play with all the [first] team against Tottenham. That is not perfect for the final."

It looks increasingly likely Carlos Tevez, the captain, will play some part, which would pave the way for the Argentine striker to lead City out at Wembley Stadium.

The aim for Mancini and his players is to have secured at least a place in August's Champions League qualifiers before then.

"For us now it is about completing the job," Nigel de Jong, the combative midfielder, said.

"This is what we all wanted and hoped for at the beginning of the season. It was a tough road with all the new signings but they have done very well and now we have the opportunity to get that Champions League place and the first silverware.

"That was the main reason why everyone came to this club and hopefully, at the end of the road, we can say we got there."

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, was dealt more bad news yesterday after Gareth Bale was ruled out of the club's tricky run-in.

Bale will miss the remainder of the season after a scan confirmed he suffered a ruptured ankle ligament against Blackpool at the weekend after a tackle from Charlie Adam.

The PFA Player of the Year will wear a protective boot for the next 12 days before starting a rehabilitation programme and, despite the seriousness of the injury, he is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training.

Spurs head to fourth-place City knowing that only a win will keep them in the hunt for a top-four finish.

Tottenham's current plight is completely different from the turn of the year when they seemed certain to beat their rivals to fourth position, as they did last season.

"It will take a miracle [to finish fourth]," Redknapp said. "Roberto Mancini has got a fantastic squad. They're in a great position. They are six points ahead of us and they have a better goal difference by miles."

* Press Association

10.45pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 5