JERMAINE JENAS: Raheem Sterling has grown into Manchester City leader
He cares. He fights. He shows desire. Where he gets all that energy from after the World Cup and playing basically every game for Manchester City, I do not know. He is remarkable.
Lesser teams would have crumbled after the huge disappointment of Wednesday night. But I believe City have too many big players in their squad, such as Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Sterling, to let that happen. Sterling is one of those leaders now.
Raheem Sterling in action for Manchester City in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Tottenham
Sterling holds off a challenge from Spurs forward Lucas Moura during the Premier League win
The intensity from City was pretty special. They looked like they were in beast mode and really had the bit between their teeth. That defeat by Spurs gave them something to feed off and they wanted revenge.
I have been involved in something similar when we [Tottenham] got knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid in 2011. It was very different from the manner in which City were beaten but it is still the most difficult pill to swallow. We were chasing the top four then.
You come in the next day, and the mood is sombre. People will try to gee you up but everyone is upset.
The day after that, though, it would have changed. Pep Guardiola would have City back into the right frame of mind and we saw it on Saturday. They came out with the great attitude of a team that is designed to win.
I think the challenge from Liverpool has helped prompt that urgency in City as well. This season has been so intense for them, there has been no let-up. That heightens the sense of importance in every minute.
City manager Pep Guardiola gives Sterling instructions during a break in play in Manchester
Phil Foden (left) heads in the winner against Spurs to keep City’s title destiny in their hands
I thought Spurs played really well too. It would have been difficult for them. After all their celebrations in the week and travelling back to the Etihad, it can be tough to raise yourself again.
But they did themselves justice. They missed some chances. As much as I have admiration for City, I have the same for Spurs as well.
City have only one tough game left — United on Wednesday. If they win that, they will go on to win the title.
It is a massive concern for Guardiola that Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out for the Manchester derby and I was surprised Pep played him on Saturday. I don’t know whether it was through desperation to win but if he had any doubts about De Bruyne’s fitness he should have gone with David Silva and Fernandinho alongside Phil Foden.
The Treble is still on and while City have enough without De Bruyne, with him they have the ability to do something special.
Amid the drama of Wednesday night, they came very close to it.
City ace Kevin De Bruyne looks dejected as he sits on the turf after suffering an injury setback
NOW FOR THE TITLE DECIDER?
United vs City — Wednesday, 8pm
Wednesday’s Manchester derby is looking more and more like a title decider — and Pep Guardiola has a massive tactical call to make.
After Phil Foden’s match-winning performance against Spurs, will Guardiola stick with the youngster especially as it is looking as though Kevin de Bruyne will miss the match through injury?
The Spaniard could well deploy Foden alongside Bernardo Silva in front of Fernandinho, go for the high press and pile the pressure on United’s suspect midfield.
Or he might prefer something slightly more measured with David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan slotting in either side of Fernandinho and just aim to pass his way through United.
Will Guardiola stick with Foden (left) and pile the pressure on rivals United or calm it down (right) and pass his way to victory at Old Trafford in Wednesday’s derby?
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