Kovacic on Title Race: It Will Be Decided by the Strongest Nerves


Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic admits the title run-in will be a test of nerve.

The champions kept the pressure on rivals Arsenal and Liverpool at the Premier League summit with an emphatic 5-1 win over relegation-threatened Luton on Saturday.

City now have just six games remaining of what has been an enthralling title race.

Kovacic, who scored City’s second goal in a commanding display at the Etihad Stadium, said: ‘It’s amazing, it’s entertaining. Three amazing teams doing great.

‘It will be tough until the end and let’s see who will have the strongest nerves until the end.

Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic has admitted the title run-in will be a test of nerve

City kept up their side of the bargain by thrashing Luton 5-1 at the Etihad on Saturday

‘It was important to keep the pressure on them but we are focused on ourselves, to win our games and then in the end we’ll see what happens.’

City dominated in all departments against the Hatters but they benefited from a huge slice of luck to take the lead after just two minutes.

Erling Haaland’s acrobatic volley was heading well wide until catching Daiki Hashioka in the face and deflecting into the net for a highly unfortunate own goal.

Perhaps with next Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid in mind, City then played at a slow tempo and it was not until the 64th minute when Kovacic doubled the lead with a thunderous strike.

Haaland then added a penalty and the hosts finished strongly with further goals from Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol after Ross Barkley had grabbed a consolation.

‘We kept going, doing our job and in the end scoring five goals,’ said Kovacic. ‘It could have been even more but we are happy with the three points. We have to keep going now.

‘We approach every game focused, to be 100 per cent and do our best. I think this game was as important as Wednesday. We need to keep the same focus and try to win.’

Former Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool defender Kolo Toure echoed Kovacic’s thoughts, claiming the Gunners are a better side than last season, but he insisted the psychological nature of the title race will be the most important.

‘The way Arteta has made his team stronger, by bringing in Rice,’ he said on Sky Sports. ‘Jorginho is doing a fantastic job. 

‘The question mark will be if Arsenal can control their nerves. Do they stay calm? Don’t think about Man City, focus on your performance.’

Despite seeing his side outplayed and still rooted in the bottom three, Luton manager Rob Edwards was not downhearted and remained confident of survival.

Toure echoed Kovacic’s thoughts and felt Arsenal can’t think about how Man City are doing

The Gunners will return to the top of the table if they beat Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon

Edwards said: ‘This game was never going to derail us, whatever happened.

‘The supporters have been incredible all season long, home and away. They are all behind the players and me and that is really special. It gives me belief.

‘The players and the staff give me that belief as well and we know we are capable of winning the next five games. I’m not saying we’re going to win them all but we feel we can win enough games.

‘We have got three home games and I think it is difficult for any team to come to Kenilworth Road. We are up for this challenge.’

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