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Smalling piles pressure on City

Manchester City will "crumble" in the face of Manchester United’s sustained title challenge. That’s the view of the Manchester United defender Chris Smalling. Smalling might be a newcomer to the United first team, but he has obviously absorbed lessons in mind games from the master: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Smalling pointed out that United pursued victory against Arsenal in full knowledge that City had already beaten Tottenham. "We all knew that we really needed to win because of what had happened earlier," Smalling said, "and I think we showed real character. We knew that they scored in the dying minutes but we can't keep relying on them to drop points and we needed to make sure that we did our job. Soon enough, if we keep ticking these wins, then they'll crumble."

One of Ferguson’s strategies in recent weeks has been to play up the significance of Tottenham. This was obviously intended to bolster Tottenham’s confidence and unsettle City ahead of the two sides meeting in the Premier League, and it nearly worked. Smalling, very much his master’s voice, echoed the United manager’s sentiments about Tottenham being still in the chase.

"I wouldn't say it is a 2-horse race," Smalling insisted. "Even if we lost or Tottenham won, I think you wouldn't have ruled either of us out. Everyone's still there. Tottenham's last 10 games probably put them at the top if you were to look at them. I think it's still crucial and it's going to go all the way down to the last few games."

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