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There is no respite in the Premier League title race. All eyes will be on Manchester City this Saturday lunchtime as they host Newcastle and aim to close the gap to leaders Arsenal - even if only briefly - to two points.

The Gunners play at home to struggling Bournemouth at 3pm, by which point City will hope to have won their game live on BT Sport.

And BT Sport’s Joleon Lescott is still backing his former club to win a third successive title, despite Arsenal’s consistency.


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“There’s a different level of expectation now with Arsenal being five points clear, but I still feel there’ll be twists and turns in there,” he tells

“Newcastle might be on a downer on Saturday - it’s always hard to come back after a defeat of that magnitude. It could make it an easier game for City. Newcastle have kept a lot of clean sheets but they’ve relied on Nick Pope making big saves.

“The hangover from losing in a final is huge. That normally comes at the end of a season and you have time to dwell on it and you don’t have to pick yourself up straight away.”

City bounced back from the disappointment of their 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest with an emphatic 4-1 win over Bournemouth last time out in the league, before a 3-0 win at Bristol City in the FA Cup.

Jack Grealish, after a relatively slow start to his City career, has impressed of late and Lescott has enjoyed watching the England international grow in confidence this season.

Jack Grealish

“I’m just pleased for him,” he says. “He seems to be enjoying it a lot more having spoken to him and when players have that you tend to get the best out of them.

“The manager’s picking him because he’s playing well - he hasn’t put in the team to play him into form. He’s doing well: it’s 21 goals and assists between him and Mahrez since the end of the World Cup, which is huge.

“He hasn’t gone on a run of unrealistic form, this is just a continuation of what he did at Villa. We saw the start of it last season but now he looks like he’s at home in the team and loves the style of play.”

City are not short of options in wide areas and another player beginning to show glimpses of his best form is Phil Foden, who scored twice in the win over Bristol City.

“Foden’s huge for City,” says Lescott. “This is probably the first time since he came on the scene that there’s been question marks or doubts, but it’s just a dip in form and it happens to everyone.

Phil Foden

“He’s massively important for the club and for the fans. Even before the World Cup he had eight goals, so it’s just a little dip and now he seems to be back.”

As a former centre-back, Lescott is well aware of the importance of a solid back four, and the recent return of Ruben Dias has further strengthened City in that area.

“He’s a top player, although if there’s one position in the City squad where competition and quality is at its highest it’s probably centre-back,” he adds.

“I don’t think there’s an individual that necessarily stands out - they all have quality and the standard doesn’t drop. It’s probably the highest level I’ve seen in the Premier League in terms of having defenders of that standard.”

Pep Guardiola’s defensive selections have been the subject of much discussion this season, with a new, unorthodox formation often meaning City lineup without a recognised left-back.

Nathan Ake has often been utilised in that part of the pitch, something Lescott can relate to having operated both as a centre-back and a full-back during his career.

Nathan Ake

“It’s something that we should learn to expect from Pep now,” he says. “He changes things, he sees things from a different perspective to most people. That’s why he’s been so successful.

“Ake played at left-back for Chelsea, Bournemouth and the national team, so it’s not unfamiliar for him. He’s defending well and he’s getting forward. He’s not asked to play the same way as Cancelo or Rico Lewis, but Pep knows whoever plays there has to play in a way that suits their attributes.

“I played a lot of games for Everton at left-back - there’s elements to it you enjoy, you get forward a lot more. Ake looks like he enjoys the one vs one defensive duels, which is what I loved. That was the bit I enjoyed the most.”

Lescott can also relate to the situation many Newcastle players now find themselves in: at a club on the cusp of becoming potential title contenders, with ambitions of one day being European heavyweights.

He joined City in 2009, a year after the Abu Dhabi United Group purchased a controlling stake in the club.

Joleon Lescott

“When we were accumulating our squad, we were signing players from championship winning teams like Carlos Tevez, Kolo Toure, so it’s slightly different.

“The takeover was a huge thing for players, seeing the calibre of players joining and what the owners wanted to do. To be recognised as one of those players was a huge honour.

“We were competing with Man Utd as title contenders and with Arsenal and Chelsea for signings. Now Newcastle are competing with Spurs, City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, so there’s a higher volume of teams going for the same players. 

“It might take them slightly longer to have success than we did, but you can see they’re going about it in the right way.

“Dan Ashworth (Newcastle’s sporting director) was a huge acquisition for the club, as Brian Marwood was for City and now Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano.”

You can watch all the action as Man City take on Newcastle at the Etihad live on BT Sport 1 from 11.30pm.