Manuel Pellegrini urges Manchester City to lay down title marker 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 they are 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.
And 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.
Pellegrini said: "They (Spurs) 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."
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping stand-in defender Kevin Wimmer can shackle Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.
Aguero has struggled with injuries this season but is now fit and in hot form, having scored seven goals in his last five matches.
The Argentinian also relishes playing against Spurs. He has found the net 10 times in eight appearances against this weekend's opponents and scored all four in City's 4-1 win over Tottenham in 2014.
It means Aguero will be the man to stop again at the Etihad Stadium and the challenge could fall on Wimmer, the Austrian defender who has replaced the injured Jan Vertonghen.
"After playing against Crystal Palace, Colchester, Norwich and Watford, I think he has showed good maturity," Pochettino said.
"Yes it is a big test, but not only for Kevin, but for the team, for the squad. Every time that you challenge one of the best players or teams, it is always a big challenge.
"But it is a collective challenge. They need to feel it is a collective challenge, not an individual one.
"But I understand that is maybe his position, he needs to challenge one of the best strikers in the world."
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli is expected to return to the starting line-up after being named on the bench for the win over Watford last weekend after feeling dizzy against Norwich, but the 19-year-old has come through tests and is fit to play.
"The past is not important, the important thing is the level we are at now," Pochettino said.
"The team believes they can win. This is the most important thing. Now we just need to show we can win."