Man City star Kevin de Bruyne relishing competitive Premier League title race

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Kevin De Bruyne has described this season’s Premier League title race as “remarkable” after Manchester City maintained the pressure on Liverpool.

The City midfielder made his first start league start since Boxing Day in Sunday’s 3-0 win at managerless Huddersfield, which lifted the defending champions back to within four points of Jurgen Klopp’s leaders.

De Bruyne, working his way back to top form after successive knee injuries, believes Tottenham are also in the hunt and is enjoying the fact it is not a one-horse race.

“There’s two teams and even Tottenham, who have so many points at this stage of the season,” said De Bruyne, whose side finished 19 points clear last season and had clinched the title with five games to spare.

“It’s quite remarkable because in a lot of seasons you would already be 10 or 12 points ahead, but this season it’s tight and I like it.

“I like it to be competitive. In the end that’s what it’s all about.”

Pep Guardiola’s side notched their fourth straight league win courtesy of Danilo’s deflected first-half effort and quickfire goals early in the second period from Raheem Sterling – a rare header – and Leroy Sane.

“Every game is important these days,” De Bruyne said. “It was good to come here, it was going to be tough because they changed manager and you know they’re going to be up for it.

“But in the end it was a good job. We scored three goals and no goals against, so we did what we had to do.”

De Bruyne was pivotal to City’s title success, but has been restricted to just eight league appearances this season due to ligament injuries in his left then right knee.

He returned to action in mid-December, but Guardiola has taken a cautious approach with the Belgium international.

“I’m getting better obviously,” De Bruyne added. “You need the run of games where you play a lot because I’m not used to playing every three days.

“But I’m getting there. I’m happy with the way I’m performing. It’s not the same like it was last year, but that’s what you can expect.

“I’ve been out since the World Cup and to come back twice is mentally hard, but I’m happy to be here to play football again.”

Danilo’s opener at the John Smith’s Stadium was City’s 100th goal in all competitions this season. They have scored 22 in their last four matches without conceding.

When asked if he had played in such a free-scoring side before, De Bruyne added: “No, probably not.

“We know what we can do on the ball, I think sometimes it’s to find the balance, but we do very well.

“We just need to try and win our games. We cannot do anything about Liverpool in their games, we need to try do what we do and win as many games as possible and see what happens.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Tottenham do not need to panic buy, says Danny Murphy

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Dele Alli is the latest Tottenham attacker set for a spell on the sidelines.

Former Tottenham midfielder Danny Murphy says the club should not be panicked into buying a forward during the January transfer window, despite Dele Alli joining Harry Kane on the injury list this weekend.

Alli picked up a hamstring injury during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Fulham and will be assessed over the coming days, and the England midfielder will almost certainly miss Thursday’s crucial Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea.

With Hueng-min Son away on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup and Kane not due back until early March, Spurs are short on attacking options during a crucial phase of their season as they look to maintain their spot in the Premier League‘s top four – with a title challenge more or less over after last week’s loss to Manchester United.

Fernando Llorente started up front against Fulham – and scored an own goal – but the Spaniard has managed only one league goal for Spurs since joining the club in 2017.

However, BBC Match of the Day 2 pundit Murphy said Spurs do not need to look to the transfer market to solve their injury crisis.

“Who are they going to bring in who is better than Son or Kane, who have scored almost half of their league goals?” Murphy asked.

“And, following that, will he be happy sitting on the bench when they return?”

“As Pochettino said himself last week, I am not sure there are too many players out there of the quality Spurs want and need, especially willing to go in as a short-term fix.”

The former Liverpool and Fulham midfielder, who played for Spurs for one season, also cited the spirit within Spurs’ squad and warned that bringing in a new player could upset that.

“I am not suggesting that any new player might destroy that, but it might upset the dynamic of the group,” Murphy added.

“When I look at Spurs’ players, none of them seem to have any kind of negative reaction when they are left out. They seem to understand their manager’s philosophy, and they play for him.

“I just don’t see how bringing in a player as a short-term fix would work out well, and in any case I believe their squad is strong enough to get them through the next few weeks – even if they’re missing Alli as well as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.”

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Tottenham wait to hear on extent of Dele Alli's hamstring injury

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Dele Alli was taken off after suffering a hamstring injury.

Tottenham are hoping that Dele Alli is not the latest attacking player they will lose to injury or being unavailable.

The England international came off during Sunday’s last-gasp 2-1 win at Fulham with a hamstring injury and boss Mauricio Pochettino admitted that it did “not look great”.

Alli had earlier scored an equaliser at Craven Cottage after Fernando Llorente’s own goal put Fulham in front and he watched from the bench as Harry Winks headed a winner deep into time added on.

Another injury to an attacking player is the last thing Pochettino needs, given the absence of the injured Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who is on international duty, over the next few weeks.

It looks highly unlikely that England international Alli, who has already been out twice this season with hamstring problems, will be fit to face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Pochettino said: “You know very well the action. We need to assess him in the next few days.

“The hamstring is a muscle we need to be careful with, but it doesn’t look great. On the pitch, we all agree that when you see him put his hands on his hamstring you feel…it’s not great.”

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri was concerned by his side’s lack of experience after losing the game at the death.

The Cottagers sent a free-kick into the Spurs penalty area in the final stages of time added on, which the visitors cleared and then went up the other end and scored.

The Italian praised his side’s performance but was exasperated by that decision.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Our first half was fantastic and we also had a penalty the referee didn’t see. There was a big penalty on (Aleksandar) Mitrovic.

“Second half we controlled the match very well in different ways. We gave a gift with the first goal and the second goal is unbelievable.

“We have a lot of free-kicks and I said to players, ‘Why do we have to put the ball in the box?’

“We lack experience. Calm, stay calm, keep possession, finish the match.

“We are alive, we continue to fight, the team showed fantastic performance. I can only say well done. But stay smart until the end. A lot of them the first time they play in the Premier League.”

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