Festive period crucial for Man City's Premier League title hopes, says Tony Gale
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 29/11/16 6:25pm
Manchester City must have a good run of results during the festive period to stand any chance of winning the Premier League, according to Sky Sports pundit Tony Gale.
City are preparing to face Chelsea on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 11.30am, and will leapfrog their opponents into top spot with a victory.
Pep Guardiola's side have struggled in the Premier League following midweek Champions League matches, picking up only two victories after competing in Europe's elite competition.
But having secured qualification to the last 16 with a draw away at Borussia Monchengladbach last week, City are enjoying their first free midweek of the season.
Barring the dead rubber against Celtic next Tuesday, City will have no European commitments until February and Gale believes they must use the opportunity to kick on in the Premier League.
"Now the Champions League is out of the way for Pep Guardiola, all concentration gets on this [the Premier League]," Gale told Premier League Daily.
"The highs and the lows of coming down from the Champions League game for instance playing against Barcelona, beating Barcelona, they could only draw against Middlesbrough, that's how the Champions League affects you.
"Now they can go bang, concentrating on the Premier League and City, if they're to win the Premier League, have got to have a good December and January and really try and get a few points clear, a little buffer."
Chelsea travel to the Etihad on the back of ending Tottenham's unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, a result which saw them stretch their winning run to seven matches.
Head coach Antonio Conte has used his favoured three at the back formation during that period and Gale believes the Blues are reaping the rewards of the new system.
"Chelsea are in great form, the formation suits the players, it's released the flare players," he said.
"Eden Hazard and Pedro doesn't play on the line now, he comes inside and they're behind Diego Costa but the two in front of the three for me, they're the ones that are difficult to break down.
"I could play now with those two in front of me, I could play sweeper all day long. David Luiz could get a deck chair out."