Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany admits the chance to clinch the Premier League title against rivals Manchester United is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
David Silva struck twice in a sublime performance as the league leaders recorded a straightforward 2-0 win against Stoke at the Bet365 Stadium.
The Spain midfielder expertly converted Raheem Sterling’s 10th-minute cross before getting on the end of Gabriel Jesus’ lofted pass to make it 2-0 early in the second half.
City, who restored their 16-point lead at the top of the table, remain on course to claim the title as early as April 7 after their game with rivals Manchester United.
Kompany knows work has to be done in their next Premier League game against Everton if they are to get that chance, but he told Sky Sports Premier League: “Everybody in the blue side of Manchester knows it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. But (we have to be) steady.
“We have one game before then which will be difficult and then we will see. It is not going to be handed to us.”
Silva took his goal tally for the season to nine despite having missed some games over the past three months following the premature birth of his son.
The 32-year-old told Sky Sports Premier League: “When I play football I forget everything. It’s good for me to play. In my private life now it is a very hard moment but my son is fighting. I’m very happy because he is getting stronger.”
Blues boss Pep Guardiola typically downplayed the derby-day title possibility.
“Everybody has asked me about it but the important thing is that on March 12 we have 81 points,” he said.
“We want to be champions and to do that we need to win two or three games.”
Stoke manager Paul Lambert was keen to take positives from a game in which his side could have lost more heavily were it not for some resolute defending.
“They’re a top side, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.
“Their movement, their speed, the way they make the pitch really big when they have the ball and really small when they don’t.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up – that’s why they’re going to win the league and are in the race to win the Champions League.
“I’m delighted we didn’t capitulate and kept our spirit there.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his duties as a Sky Sports analyst after the 40-year-old admitted spitting at a teenage girl in a car was “four or five seconds of madness”.
In a video of the incident, the 14-year-old’s father repeatedly mentioned the scoreline of Manchester United‘s 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday and the former player is heard to say “All right”, before appearing to spit at the car alongside his.
Carragher has apologised to the family and stressed he will try to do so again in person but that has not prevented his employers dropping him from the Monday Night football programme.
“Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his duties as a football analyst for Sky after he was filmed spitting at a family in their car following Liverpool’s defeat against Manchester United on Saturday,” said a statement from Sky Sports on their Twitter account.
Carragher has expressed regret both privately and publicly and admits he has no explanation for his actions.
“Watching those clips back it feels like an out-of-body thing, that moment of madness for four or five seconds.
“I have no excuse and it is devastating for the family involved and my own family – but it is my actions which have brought that on.
“My biggest regret – there are lots at what has happened – but certainly the biggest one is for a 14-year-old girl to be caught in the middle of an altercation with her father.
Totally out of order & Ive apologised personally to all the family this evening. I was goaded 3/4 times along the motorway while being filmed & lost my rag. No excuse apologies. https://t.co/ofrNfiwhYH
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) March 11, 2018
“That has devastated me more than anything. This is a bad stain on my character and my career.”
Asked what kind of message it sent out he added: “A poor message. Not just being in the game of football, it is a poor message for everyone out there.
“It is the lowest of the low. All I can do is apologise and try to get back to being the person I am.”
Carragher, who has not offered his resignation, was asked a number of times whether he thought he should keep his job.
The former centre-back, who became clearly emotional when speaking about his own teenage daughter, did make a case for being able to continue.
“It is not my decision,” he said.
“There is no doubt what I have done is disgusting. I apologise for it and am getting vilified – and rightly so.
“I am speaking to people at Sky and working at the best way forward. They have made it be known they are very disappointed and I understand that.
“I have brought shame on the name of Sky.
Jamie Carragher says he’s sent a poor message to his kids pic.twitter.com/1hGzNpaBno
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 12, 2018
“Hopefully I can show people over these next days and weeks the real me and hopefully a moment of madness will not cloud their judgement.
“What I would hope, not just for Sky, but for the public who have known me in the public eye for almost 25 years since I was playing, is five seconds of madness would not take over everything.
“All I can do now is apologise. Hopefully they accept that and I’d like to apologise again.
“There is not a lot I can add except improving my actions.”Carragher’s Sky colleague and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville tweeted his support.
“I’ve just watched Carra23 say sorry. No excuses he’s made a big mistake. He’s massively passionate about football and he’s overstepped the mark and shouldn’t have reacted,” he wrote.
“I’ve been on TV for 3 years with him and imo this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”
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De Boer was sacked by the Eagles in September after losing his first four Premier League matches without so much as mustering a goal, let alone a point.
That record was brought up as Mourinho went after the Dutchman, having been irked by the former Palace manager saying it was “pity” for Rashford to be playing under the United boss given his preference for short-term success over player development.
“I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League,” the United boss said.
“Frank de Boer – seven matches, seven defeats [sic], zero goals – where he was saying that it was not good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me because the most important thing for me is to win.
“Marcus is 20 years old and I’m really pleased with him,” says Jose, on @MarcusRashford. “Does he play every match from the start? No, of course not. But he’s a player that we trust and I’m really happy.” #MUFC pic.twitter.com/0BmWLw2oYE
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 12, 2018
“If he was coached by Frank, he would learn how to lose because he lost every game.”
Palace lost their first seven games without scoring, though the last three of those came under De Boer’s successor Roy Hodgson.
Mourinho’s stinging comment came in response to a question that did not even reference De Boer, only whether Rashford would retain his starting berth after a match-winning brace in Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win against Liverpool.
The Portuguese did not actually address that question ahead of the return leg against Sevilla, nor did he give a straight answer on Paul Pogba’s availability on Tuesday.
The midfielder – who surprisingly started the goalless first leg on the bench in Spain – was injured on the eve of the Liverpool clash and was conspicuous by his absence from the section of training open to the media on Monday.
Mourinho offered no insight into Pogba’s injury, just that the club-record signing could be involved against Sevilla.
“(Pogba) did (train) after you left,” Mourinho said.
“I don’t know (if he can play), we don’t know yet, but he trained a little bit after you left.”
Mourinho confirmed that Anthony Martial is back in contention after an injury of his own, and that Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones remain absent.
The latter will also be unavailable for England over the international break, with the Portuguese saying Gareth Southgate should only select Jones if he “wants to take him for the medical department because he’s injured”.
Mourinho was in spiky mood ahead of the visit of Sevilla, repeatedly making self-deprecating remarks about his Champions League triumphs as Porto and Inter Milan manager.
Neither of those victorious sides were favourites for the crown and the Portuguese believes United are outsiders this time.
Asked if he feels he has the conditions to bring a fourth European Cup to Old Trafford, Mourinho said: “Not yet, but when a team reaches the last eight anything is possible.
“Now I have only one name in my mind: it is Sevilla. I know that it is very difficult to go through.
“If we go through to the quarter-final draw, it doesn’t matter the opponent – for us or for Sevilla – will always be one of the big names in European football, but we will try.”
Provided by Press Association Sport