Manchester City's Nigel De Jong: Sunderland Beating Chelsea Shows The Premier League Gap Is Closing

Dutchman expects tough test against former boss Mark Hughes on Sunday
Manchester City midfield enforcer Nigel de Jong is tipping this season's race for the Premier League title to be the closest yet.

The Dutchman has pointed to Sunderland's shock 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea last weekend as an indication no one will run away with the league.

And with Manchester City still within striking distance of the top de Jong feels recent criticism of the club's form - they have failed to score at home in their last three league games - is unfair.

De Jong said on the club's official website: "Sunderland showed that if you have belief, anything is possible and I think this will be a strange season where anyone can beat anyone.

“The gap between the teams at the top and the chasing pack is closing and that means there are going to be some odd results.

“Everyone knows how difficult Chelsea are to beat, but they’ve lost two of their last three games and were beaten heavily at home last weekend - a result nobody could have predicted."

But while Chelsea's lead at the top of the table was cut, Manchester City struggled to break down Birmingham City at home in a 0-0 draw.

De Jong though said it should be looked on as a point gained in a tight Premier League race.

“Against Birmingham we were expected to win the game – and should have done because we had enough chances -but we didn’t play as well as we can and they came to stifle our play.

“The important thing is, despite not being at our best, we still picked up something from the game – what was disappointing from our point of view is that a lot teams around us also dropped points and we didn’t take advantage of it.”

Manchester City take on Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend, a meeting that will see them up against old manager Mark Hughes.

De Jong added: "It will be an interesting game on Sunday because obviously we are playing our old manager and he knows most of our squad quite well.

“Craven Cottage is a difficult place to go but we have to go there looking for nothing less than three points and take the game to them.  

“We’re like a boxer in the corner at the moment and we’re trying to fight our way out.

"We’ve taken a few punches and now it’s time to starting battling back.”

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