Kevin De Bruyne believes victory in next week’s derby would see Manchester City strike a “massive blow” in the title race, writes Andy Hampson.
Midfielder De Bruyne said: “A derby is always special. It is a big game, the first against second, so everybody will be up for it. Hopefully we can win the game, it would be massive.”
Before the derby, City will face Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine in their final Champions League group match. Having already secured top spot, tomorrow’s match has little riding on it for City and Guardiola is expected to rest players.
De Bruyne will definitely not feature having incurred a suspension. He said: “Maybe (it is) good for me to get a little bit of rest and prepare myself for Sunday.”
Meanwhile City manager Pep Guardiola has been reminded of his responsibilities by the Football Association following his animated post-match conversation with Southampton’s Nathan Redmond.
The FA had sought observations from Guardiola.
Now it has emerged the FA accepts the Catalan’s version of events and will not take the matter further. Guardiola has been reminded of his responsibilities and the matter is now considered closed.
Raheem Sterling’s stoppage-time winner earned City a 2-1 victory over Redmond’s Saints and afterwards Guardiola approached the forward.
It initially appeared Guardiola was confronting Redmond to complain about something, but he said afterwards he was complimenting the player. This was later corroborated by Redmond himself.
Guardiola on Friday conceded he should not have approached Redmond in such a way, although he could not contain his emotions in the exhilarating aftermath of Sterling’s late goal.
Asked if he regretted the incident, Guardiola said: “Yes. I did it in Munich, with my old player (Joshua) Kimmich, I did the same in Dortmund and had regret there after the game and the same now.
“I cannot control myself. Hopefully I will improve. What I said is what I said and what Nathan said in his statement.
“I admire him as a player and say thank you for his comments, but if the FA want my statement again I am able to explain whatever they want. If they don’t believe me I don’t know what we’re doing here.”
Elsewhere Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino believes his side have not deteriorated compared to last season, predicting they will bounce back from a poor run in the Premier League.
Spurs are sixth, 18 points adrift of league leaders City after losing four of their 15 games this season, the same as the entire last campaign when they finished second, and are winless four matches.
Despite poor domestic form, Tottenham have improved on last season’s Champions League showing, progressing to the knockout stages and Pochettino believes City’s form rather than Spurs’ decline had opened the gap between them.
“We have maybe three points less than this time last season, and we’ve finished top of our Champions League group,” Pochettino said. “City have created a gap, but I‘m sure the team will improve and take many lessons from this run.”
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