Manuel Pellegrini tells Manchester City to prove title credentials against Spurs
Manuel Pellegrini has never doubted Manchester City's title credentials - but feels now is the time to show everyone else.
Doubts have been raised about City's challenge after last week's loss to the Barclays Premier League's sensational surprise package, Leicester.
That defeat saw them slip to fourth, six points behind the leaders, and locked in a tight battle for the crown that also features Sunday's opponents Tottenham, and Arsenal.
It is not the charge to the title that was envisaged as City swept to victory in their opening five games without conceding a goal.
They have struggled for consistency ever since and Pellegrini wants them to up the intensity.
The Chilean, who will make way for Pep Guardiola at the end of the season, said: "We are always thinking that we can do it, but after that you must demonstrate during the game why you can do it.
"Maybe it was an unexpected defeat against Leicester but we played a very good team.
"In the (previous) 11 games we just lost one against Everton, in the first leg of the Capital One Cup. So, we were in a good moment but played a bad game."
This weekend could be a pivotal one in the campaign with City's home clash with Spurs coming on the same day Leicester travel to Arsenal.
Spurs are in fine form having won their last six matches in all competitions, and are making a strong bid for a first league title since 1961.
Pellegrini expects them to last the pace and does not feel their failures of recent decades will hinder them..
He said: "They have a very good team, good players, a good manager. This is game number 25 and they are involved for the fight for the title, so probably in the last 13 games they will do it also.
"But what I think about Tottenham is not just the last six games. The whole season they have been doing very well.
"It doesn't matter what you do in the past. We know we have to play a strong team and the important thing is to try and be at the same level.
"But it is not only Tottenham. Five or six teams can continue fighting for the title."
City could be lifted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany after another prolonged spell out with a calf injury.
Kompany has not started a game since November and an aborted nine-minute spell as a substitute during a failed comeback attempt against Sunderland on Boxing Day is his only action in 20 games.
David Silva has also shaken off an ankle problem but Fabian Delph is facing up to seven weeks out with an Achilles injury. Bacary Sagna also misses this weekend's game with a knee injury.