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first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP):Amid the buzz about surprise leader Leicester and the stuttering challenges of Arsenal and Manchester City, another title contender in the English Premier League (EPL) has been working pretty much in the shadows.Not anymore.For the first time in a generation, Tottenham are real factors in the title race, and are showing the kind of form that could see the club rid itself of the underachievers tag that has followed it around for years.The team from north London has climbed into second place, ahead of neighbours Arsenal on goal difference, and five points behind Leicester, with 13 matches left. Not since 1985 have Spurs been this high in the standings this late in the season, as they look to capture a first League title since 1961.This weekend could be pivotal, with the top four facing off. Leicester are away to Arsenal, and Spurs are at fourth-place to City.City have won the last five home meetings with Tottenham, racking up 10 goals in the past two fixtures. There’s a feeling it could be different this time.There are positives all over the field for Mauricio Pochettino. His defence has conceded fewer goals than any other team this season; Eric Dier has been converted from a defender into a powerful holding midfielder; previously inconsistent attacking midfielders Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, and Mousa Dembele are delivering consistently effective performances; Dele Alli, in the No. 10 role, is arguably the hottest young prospect in English football; and striker Harry Kane is the third best scorer in the league.With just three losses, Tottenham could have too much energy for an aging, injury-hit City side that was blown away last weekend by Leicester – another team filled with hard-running players. City lost to Spurs 4-1 at White Hart Lane in September.A problem for Spurs could be fixture congestion, with the team set to resume its Europa League campaign next week – over two legs against Fiorentina in the last 32 – and was still in the FA Cup. Progress deep in those competitions, and Pochettino’s players could be burnt out before the end of the season.Leicester, meanwhile, just has the Premier League to focus on.MAN CITY’S INJURIESCity’s star-studded midfield is beset with injuries at just the wrong time.Star playmaker David Silva hurt his ankle against Leicester and joins an injury list that already includes attacking midfielders Kevin De Bruyne, Jes?s Navas, and Samir Nasri.Silva have had ongoing problems with his ankle, which must be a worry for City given the congested fixture schedule that includes a League Cup final against Liverpool and the Champion League last 16.PRESSURE ON LEICESTERNow the world has finally recognised Leicester as legitimate title contenders, the team has to deal with the pressure of expectation.Star striker Jamie Vardy doesn’t see it as a problem.”We’re just enjoying the ride,” Vardy said. “If you start thinking about it too much it’s going to affect you, it’s as simple as that. We’ll just continue to do exactly the same thing we’ve done all season.”One of the few things Leicester would change was its result against Arsenal in its first meeting this season. Arsenal won 5-2 at King Power Stadium, one of just two defeats for Leicester in this campaign.last_img

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