London (AFP) – 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.
Pep Guardiola’s side were eliminated from Europe’s elite club competition in stunning fashion on Wednesday as they 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 quarter-finals.
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 their last four games, Liverpool have opened up a five-point gap on fifth placed Arsenal as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.
Arsenal travel to West Bromwich Albion with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hoping last weekend’s FA Cup win over minnows 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 look odds on to regain the title two years after they were last crowned champions, but it will be intriguing to see how they fare at Stoke following an emotional FA Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United on Monday.