Belfast Telegraph

Table doesn't lie - Hart

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart believes if the Blues are crowned champions on May 13, they will have deserved it.

Following their 1-0 win over Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, City know victory at Newcastle will only leave them needing to beat relegation-threatened QPR on the final day to finish top for the first time since 1968. Yet City may find that ultimate triumph being written up as an example of United throwing it away rather than them actually winning it.

Such an assessment, Hart insists, would be grossly unfair. The England international said: "The season doesn't lie. It is all about where you finish at the end. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down but we have been in a strong position for seven months."

He added: "We are not on a late surge. We have not been battling in fourth or fifth and all of a sudden come good. After Arsenal, we were strongly reminded that we were leading and then we supposedly cracked up. But we are back at the top when it matters. We have two big games to go. Hopefully we wrap up this league."

All season, the headlines have centred around the exploits of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli.

On Monday, though, City's unsung heroes were the ones who stood up to be counted. Utility man Pablo Zabaleta justified his inclusion at right-back ahead of Micah Richards. Joleon Lescott was equally impressive in central defence alongside skipper and goalscorer Vincent Kompany, while Hart wanted to make sure Gael Clichy got a mention as well.

"Sometimes it frustrates me," Hart said. "I love the way Sergio and David have set this Premier League alight but people don't see the hard work others do. We have to do very well as a team for everyone to be appreciated."

Hart is expected to shrug off an ankle injury to play at Newcastle on Sunday - a game the whole championship battle seems to rest on. Certainly there has been no extended celebration of the win over United that secured top spot on goal difference. The task, underlined by Newcastle's 2-0 win at Chelsea last night, is far from completed.

"As opponents, United have gone now," Hart said.

"We have played them twice. Now we must focus on Newcastle. The vibes in the dressing room are positive, but no-one is getting carried away because we have another hard game in front of us. It is the Premier League. We wouldn't expect it any other way."

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