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Roberto Mancini unfazed by rivals United as depleted City try to make up ground

Roberto Mancini: Manchester United are of no concern to him this weekend. Picture: Getty

Roberto Mancini: Manchester United are of no concern to him this weekend. Picture: Getty

  • by ANDY HAMPSON
 

MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini claims Manchester United are of no concern to him this weekend.

The Italian says he has no interest in his title rivals’ much-hyped clash with Liverpool as he prepares for a testing trip to Arsenal this afternoon.

Mancini’s champions trail United by seven points at the top of the Barclays Premier League, a gap that could be ten by the time City kick-off at the Emirates Stadium.

With a number of key players missing – including Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri – Mancini, pictured, wants to focus only on his own team and not the pressures of the title race.

He said: “We should go our way. We can’t think about United or other teams. We don’t see the table in this moment but at the end of February. Also it is difficult because we are missing important players but we want to do a good job on Sunday.”

The Toure brothers, midfield star Yaya and defender Kolo, are preparing for the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast, striker Aguero has a hamstring injury and former Arsenal playmaker Nasri is suspended.

Defender Aleksandar Kolarov is back in contention but Maicon, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell are still sidelined.

Mancini said: “We can do nothing – Yaya is in South Africa but the problem is we are missing three or four important players, Samir, Sergio and the others. But I think, if we work hard, we can do well. Yes, we have had a lot of injuries this year. Last year we were really lucky, this year maybe not.

“We have had important players injured but this is football. We need to work, we need to work with players we have.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the clash is an all-or-nothing showdown for both clubs.

The Gunners need the points as much as City do, as they have a gap to close on the top four, and Wenger believes that only maximum points will do for either side as the league heads towards its business end.

“I think they are in a situation where a draw will not be good enough, and we are in the same situation,” said the Frenchman.

“The fact that both teams have to absolutely go for a win promises a more open game.

“When you are in that [title] situation, you don’t want to drop more points because it can be damaging for your chances.”

Wenger added: “It [the championship] is still very open. When you watch the games, no team today goes into a Premier League game and is sure to win it, therefore I believe every team can drop points.

“It is much more open than people think it is.”

 

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