City hope to correct European woes as Spurs await
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) –
Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City side will attempt to recover from yet another European disappointment when they return to Premier League action against Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
A midweek 2-2 home draw to Ajax all but ended City’s hopes of reaching the Champions League group stages and Mancini’s frustration was clear when he confronted the referee on the pitch at the end of the game.
The result came just days after City had lost ground to Premier League leaders Manchester United by failing to beat West Ham and with expectations high for the reigning champions, a return to winning form can’t come soon enough.
The visit of Tottenham will provide a stern challenge and while Andre Villas-Boas’s side have also struggled for consistency, City first team coach David Platt has warned they will present a different kind of test to the home side.
City have remain unbeaten at the Etihad in the league in the league since the loss to Everton in December 2010 and have grown increasingly used to visiting teams sitting deep and attempting to grind out a draw.
Platt said: “It will be very difficult, very tough. They have a group of young energetic players that can harm you, can score a goal in an instant.
“We’re not talking about someone who can’t come and go to win a football match and that’s no disrespect to other teams.
“They’ve got several individuals who can turn a game in an instant and it becomes very difficult in its own right because of that.”
City have yet to experience defeat in the Premier League this season, however, and Platt is satisfied with their opening to the campaign.
He added: “The league table starts to take some kind of shape after 10 games or so. We’re not a third of the way into yet but after 10 games it starts to take some kind of shape.
City could recall David Silva, Joleon Lescott and Maicon, who have been absent with respective hamstring, back and ankle injuries.
But England internationals Micah Richards, James Milner and Jack Rodwell remain on the sidelines.
Tottenham will arrive at the Etihad with the disadvantage of having faced Maribor in the Europa League 48 hours after City had taken on Ajax.
Jermain Defoe’s hat-trick in that game secured a 3-1 victory and provided a timely boost after the unexpected 1-0 defeat to Wigan at White Hart Lane the previous weekend.
That result left Spurs in sixth place, level on points with Everton and West Brom, and Gareth Bale is convinced the midweek victory will help revive their domestic campaign.
“We needed the right reaction after the weekend and we certainly did that,” said the winger. “The lads are delighted and we’ve got to maintain that form now going into the Premier League.
“This is another big game. We went there last season, gave them a good run for their money and probably should have won, but it wasn’t to be.
“We know it will be very difficult on Sunday and we’ll give it our all. We’ve played well away, we’ll prepare right and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”
Moussa Dembele will again be missing but central midfielder Sandro faces a late fitness test.