City need belief to win title: Toure

Yaya Toure believes that Manchester City can repeat their 2014 success, when they reined in Liverpool, who led by nine points.
Yaya Toure believes that Manchester City can repeat their 2014 success, when they reined in Liverpool, who led by nine points.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Yaya Toure says making up the ground on Chelsea to win the Premier League title is not beyond his club Manchester City if they retain belief in themselves as they did in 2014.

The 33-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder concedes the 11-point difference will be tough to overhaul.

However, a fifth successive win at home today to Stoke City - they have not lost in nine matches in all competitions - would at least keep some pressure on Antonio Conte's Chelsea side.

Yet, City's previous two league title wins both involved late runs to overtake teams with seemingly unassailable leads - in 2012 overhauling Manchester United and in 2014 Liverpool.

City trailed Liverpool by nine points with five games left - albeit with two matches in hand on the Reds - and recovered to win the league by two points.

"We just hope. The Premier League this year is going to be very demanding and very difficult," said Toure. "When you see Chelsea play, they play with confidence. They have good momentum and they also play fewer games than nearly all of the other teams in the top four because they are not in Europe. That is a big advantage.

"But we just have to believe, because we did that in 2014."

The loss of striker Gabriel Jesus to a broken metatarsal last month might have stalled City's progress, but the good news is Sergio Aguero has taken the opportunity to reassert himself.

The Argentinian's goal in Sunday's 2-0 victory at bottom club Sunderland was his fifth in three matches.

Under the guidance of former City manager Mark Hughes, Stoke have become remarkably consistent, finishing ninth for each of the last three seasons, and on course to make that four.

They have, however, failed to beat any side in the top half of the table this season, and have developed a worrying habit of losing heavily to the top teams.

They were particularly poor in a 4-0 defeat at Tottenham in their last away game on Feb 26, but responded well to beat struggling Middlesbrough 2-0 last Saturday.

In-form forward Marko Arnautovic is doubtful because of illness. Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri, though, is available after missing five matches with a calf problem.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAN CITY V STOKE CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'City need belief to win title: Toure'. Print Edition | Subscribe