Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Yaya Toure warns City title on the line

GOODISON RETURN:Pep Guardiola said he hoped John Stones would not face too much barracking from the crowd at Goodison Park, once the defender’s home

AFP, LIVERPOOL, England

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, left, celebrates an FA Cup goal against West Ham United at London Stadium on Friday last week.

Photo: Reuters

Yaya Toure said Manchester City can forget about winning the Premier League this season if they fail to beat Everton today.

The Ivorian veteran’s assertion that City have no more room for error appears to be shared by his teammates, judging by the performances in their first two matches of this year.

They overcame the sending off of Fernandinho — his third in his past six appearances — to beat Burnley 2-1 in the Premier League on Jan. 2, then thrashed West Ham United 5-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Both displays showed significant improvement after a costly December, in which Pep Guardiola-managed City lost three times and fell seven points behind league leaders Chelsea.

In his title rallying cry to his teammates Toure said: “We can’t let the gap get any bigger between ourselves and the leaders, so we have to go to Everton and win if we’re to remain in the title race this season.”

Having had nine days to recover from the West Ham game, City should be fresh for their trip to Goodison Park.

Winger Kevin de Bruyne has recovered from an illness that caused him to miss two training sessions this week, while defender Vincent Kompany is approaching fitness after almost two months out with a knee problem, the 35th injury setback of his eight-and-a-half-year City career.

Guardiola might be reluctant to risk Kompany, given his injury record, meaning Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones are set to retain their places in central defense.

For Stones, it will be a first return to Goodison Park since leaving Everton to join City in August.

The England international did not leave on the best of terms, pushing for a transfer 12 months after trying, and failing, to move to Chelsea.

However, Guardiola is confident that the defender can handle any barracking he receives from the home supporters.

“Yeah, he is strong enough,” Guardiola said. “In those terms, I don’t have doubts about that.”

“I would like it that, when some players come back here, the fans of Manchester City respect the players playing for that club,” he said. “I would like to feel that, but I’m not concerned about what Everton decide to do. Hopefully they can respect him.”

“I know how John respects the club, because they helped him to develop his performance and play in the Premier League,” he said.

New signing Gabriel Jesus will not be involved, despite arriving in England this week following his move from Brazilian side Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.

The striker is not eligible to play because his international clearance has not come through in time.

Everton, by contrast, will have two new signings available for selection today.

Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin completed a transfer from Manchester United on Thursday, a week after 19-year-old forward Ademola Lookman arrived from League One club Charlton.

Manager Ronald Koeman made clear new signings were needed after his team were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday last week, losing 2-1 at home to fading champions Leicester City.

Koeman is hopeful a deal to buy Standard Liege’s Algerian forward Ishak Belfodil might be struck in the coming days, but nothing will be done in time for him to play against City.

Everton were seventh in the Premier League going into the game, three places and 12 points behind City, but remain desperately inconsistent; they have not managed to win two league matches in a row since September.

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