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Media: Gundogan influence gives City added edge

MEDIA WATCH: Has Ilkay Gundogan's form given City a new edge?

MEDIA WATCH: Has Ilkay Gundogan's form given City a new edge?

The Premier League title race is once again under the microscope this morning as Manchester City continue the defence of our title in the face of a stern Liverpool challenge.

And there’s also news of a record-breaking crowd for today’s Women’s FA Cup final between City and West Ham.

Let’s start, though, with the Manchester Evening News’ Simon Bajkowski, who says City are a much-improved side on that one that lost to Leicester on Boxing Day.

He believes Ilkay Gundogan’s form has given City added impetus, something Leicester may struggle to handle when the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening.

“For now, though, there is no longer the same sense of dread when a team comes out without Fernandinho's name on it because Gundogan has been so good in a team that looks as full of confidence as it did drained of it back in December,” he writes.

“The former Dortmund star has added drive, and there is also more from Aymeric Laporte coming out of defence, and from Bernardo Silva and others working back. Where the team did seem so reliant on Fernandinho, that burden has been eased.

“Leicester may have improved under their new manager, but they will come up against a different City beast on Monday.”

READ: Cushing warns against Cup Final complacency

WATCH: Cushing | 'City squad fit and ready for Final'

Jamie Carragher, writing in the Telegraph, says there’s no chance of Rafa Benitez easing up when his Newcastle side host Liverpool this weekend.

Liverpool remain one point behind City with two matches remaining and have played their part in one of the all-tine great Premier League title races.

And they head to Newcastle on Saturday for a crunch game, and Carragher says the idea that Benitez, who spent six years as manager of Liverpool, will give them a free pass is nonsense.

"I played six years under Rafa at Anfield and know how ambitious he is," Carragher writes. "He has not given up on returning to the highest level. In a season in which Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino have been lauded, Benitez will be frustrated he has not had the same resources to challenge on a level playing field.

"I am not sure Rafa will particularly want Klopp to win the title. Not because of any bitterness, but because deep down he will harbour ambitions of going back to Anfield one day and becoming the manager to end the Premier League drought.

"Games such as this offer an opportunity to show how - when it comes to tactics - he remains one of the best. He will be working overtime to organise his team to make life as difficult as possible for Liverpool. Benitez will sit deep, challenge Liverpool to get beyond his back five and seek to play on the counter-attack.”



Guardiola warns Leicester will not roll over

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BBC Sport’s Mark Lawrenson has predicted a 2-0 win for City in Moinday’s game – as has golfer Tommy Fleetwood.

“Manchester City will be ready for them after their week off and they will know they are three wins away from a domestic treble,” Lawrenson writes.

“I have been at each of their past three games and they have been able to step things up in the second half if needed. I am sure they will do that again if they have to.

“Lawro's prediction: 2-0

“Tommy's prediction: 2-0”

Ans, finally, BBC Sport say more than 50,000 fans are expected to attend today’s Women’s FA Cup final.

City travel to Wembley to face West Ham in the showpiece game – and a record crowd could be awaiting the players.

“Organisers are hoping the attendance for Saturday's final will surpass last year's record of 45,423, with around 52,000 tickets understood to have been issued so far," they write

“The final is being held at England's national stadium for the fifth consecutive year, just over a month before the World Cup begins in France on 7 June.”

That’s all for this morning’s roundup of the back pages – but stay with us throughout the day as we continue to bring you buildup to Monday’s big game.

And don’t forget: we will bring you minute-by-minute coverage of this evening Women’s FA Cup final as City play West Ham at Wembley.

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