Premier League: Sagna calls for City response, Chelsea on title march

Bacary Sagna insists Manchester City will make amends for their Champions League misery by securing a crucial win against Liverpool, while leaders Chelsea aim to move a step closer to the Premier League title this weekend.

Bacary Sagna has called on his team mates to put up a strong response after being knocked out of the Champions League by Monaco.   -  REUTERS

Bacary Sagna insists Manchester City will make amends for its Champions League misery by securing a crucial win against Liverpool, while leader Chelsea aims to move a step closer to the Premier League title this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's side was eliminated from Europe's elite club competition in stunning fashion on Wednesday as it blew a 5-3 first leg advantage to go out on away goals following a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

It was another major setback for City manager Guardiola, who had never before seen one of his teams knocked out before the Champions League quarterfinal.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola was heavily criticised for his tactics and team selection in Monaco, but City defender Sagna is adamant the blame lies with the players for failing to show enough fight.

With third placed City just one point ahead of fourth placed Liverpool in the battle for a top four finish, Guardiola needs a lift and Sagna called on his team-mates to get back on track with a vital three points at Eastlands on Sunday.

"We forgot to fight as a team," Sagna said. "We are out and we have to recover because on Sunday we have an important game.

"I expect a reaction from the team. I expect more desire, to show more passion. We have to recover because it was quite a difficult game and then we have to think about Liverpool."

Having won three of its last four games, Liverpool has opened up a five-point gap on fifth placed Arsenal as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.

Arsenal travels to West Bromwich Albion with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hoping last weekend's FA Cup win over minnow Lincoln has lifted his players' shattered morale.

Rocked by the humiliation of a 10-2 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16, Wenger has endured calls for his resignation from angry fans and failing to finish in the top four might convince the Frenchman to step down.

"When you care about results and they are not what you want it's not a happy place," Wenger said.

"Our job is to do as we well can. We want to play Champions League next season. Six or seven fighting for the places.

"Nothing is good enough anymore so you try to do as well as you can."

Dirty work

With a 10-point lead over second placed Tottenham, Chelsea looks odds on to regain the title two years after it was last crowned champion, but it will be intriguing to see how it fares at Stoke following an emotional FA Cup quarterfinal victory over Manchester United on Monday.

A fiercely-contested clash was tilted Chelsea's way by N'Golo Kante's fine winner, while Blues boss Antonio Conte and United manager Jose Mourinho almost came to blows on the touchline.

Having to re-energise themselves for the less glamorous task of seeing off Stoke might not be easy and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is counting on Kante to provide the necessary inspiration.

"He had a tremendous game again. He gets credit for the dirty work he does, the energy he has and how he breaks up play. He's a good finisher as well," Cahill said.

United, six points adrift of the top four, head to the Riverside Stadium to face second bottom Middlesbrough, who will be in action for the first time since manager Aitor Karanka was sacked on Thursday.

Tottenham, hosts Southampton on Sunday, must prove it can thrive without Harry Kane if it is to have any chance of closing the gap on Chelsea.

Mauricio Pochettino's side will be without England striker Kane for several weeks after its leading scorer suffered an ankle injury in last weekend's FA Cup win against Millwall.

"We have to keep believing and we have a team who do believe. As you saw from Barcelona against PSG, anything is possible in football," Kane said of Tottenham's title chances.

Leicester, fresh from its dramatic Champions League win over Sevilla, has a chance to pull clear of the relegation battle when it takes on West Ham.

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Bournemouth v Swansea (1730 GMT), Crystal Palace v Watford, Everton v Hull, Stoke v Chelsea, Sunderland v Burnley, West Brom v Arsenal (1230 GMT), West Ham v Leicester

Sunday

Manchester City v Liverpool (1630 GMT), Middlesbrough v Manchester United (1200 GMT), Tottenham v Southampton (1415 GMT)

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