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Lee Clark Exclusive: Chasing Man City can't slip-up; don't forget Spurs

The festive period is a great time for a football fan, and for close to 30 years, I was fortunate enough to be around professional football clubs during those hectic two-and-a-half weeks.

It's very similar for a player and a coach. There's certainly no festivities because you need to be in peak condition, ready to face the amount of games that you have. You lose track of the days really, because the games just come thick and fast, you're playing every 48 to 72 hours over a two-and-a-half-week period.

I think if you ask players, they prefer the playing side to the training sessions and the opportunities to get games. But the hardest part as a player are the little knocks and niggles where as if you had a full working week you could maybe get over them.

And then from a manager's point of view, you've got a conundrum. What if you're team plays well and the individuals play well and they get a result? Do you stick with that team? They're playing with confidence and they've got a good result. But in the back of your mind, you're thinking, have they got the energy levels to reproduce the level of performance again? And if you do stick with the winning team and they lose because they're lacking freshness, then you regret that you didn't freshen the group up.

So its a tough one really. Also, with the size of squads in the Premier League and squads that have players that can replicate each other with good performances, it's a real tough period and balancing act for managers especially.

There were a number of great games over the festive period, it's a great time to go and watch football. All I would temper with that is, are we getting value for money because teams are resting players? To argue against that, I would look at the last game of the festive period when the two sets of players for Manchester City and Liverpool still had enough energy left to produce a fantastic game.

It was a really interesting two weeks of football, but obviously the stand-out was City vs Liverpool. It was a game of the highest quality. And when I say highest quality, I mean world-class players for both teams at every position in every aspect of the game, it wasn't just the quality of the passing and the possession, it was the high-tempo pressing of both teams, and the individual talent was also incredible.

It was class in every aspect of the game. And I think for some people who maybe don't understand the game would have been expecting a lot of chances from both sides. But when you have so many good players, including the defenders and goalkeepers, you're going to be dealing with some quality footballers and that was what was achieved on the day.

I agree with what Pep said after the game. City have to treat every game like a cup final. I don't think they are in a position to drop any more points. But if there's any team in the league that could go from now until the end of the season and not lose, it's Manchester City. The win over Liverpool will give them a huge lift.

Jurgen Klopp went and made big changes against Wolves which resulted in another loss, but I think when they get that starting XI back they'll be fine. It's different for them now because they're the leaders and are getting chased by people. It does bring extra pressure onto the players when they are getting chased, knowing that every game they play that doesn't end with maximum points and they'll be looking over their shoulder to see if that gap between them and the others is getting closer.

I'm excited to watch it, it's going to be a cracking race with them going toe to toe. And let's not forget what Tottenham are about because they're hanging in there. They've got a terrific young squad as well. I'm certainly looking forward to second-half of the season!

Lee Clark
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Lee Clark

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