x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Old Trafford clash will be no distraction, says City manager

Roberto Mancini says Manchester City cannot worry about the tables until February and Arsene Wenger states that neither Arsenal nor City can afford a draw.

Arsene Wenger says neither his club, Arsenal, nor Manchester City can afford to have a draw as they face each other at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger says neither his club, Arsenal, nor Manchester City can afford to have a draw as they face each other at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini claims Manchester United are of no concern to him on Sunday. The Manchester City manager says he has no interest in his title rivals' much-hyped clash with Liverpool as he prepares for a testing trip to Arsenal.

Mancini's champions trail United by seven points at the top of the Premier League, a gap that could be 10 by the time City kick off at Emirates Stadium.

Mancini, with a number of key players missing, wants to focus only on his own team and not the pressures of the title race.

"We should go our way. We can't think about United or other teams," the Italian said. "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, Yaya and Kolo, are preparing for the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, striker Sergio Aguero has a hamstring injury and Samir 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.

"Yes, we have had a lot of injuries this year. Last year we were really lucky, this year maybe not."

Mancini feels there is plenty of time to overhaul the deficit to United, especially as City recovered from eight points down with six games remaining to win the title last season.

He said: "I don't think we deserve to be seven points behind, but now we can do nothing only start to win ... the season is long and is very difficult. We have another 17 games. I think we can recover these points."

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, thinks the game is an all or nothing showdown for both clubs.

Arsenal need a victory to close back within striking distance of the top four, while City cannot afford to lose more ground to Manchester United.

"I think they are in a situation where a draw will not be good enough, and we are in the same situation," said the Arsenal manager.

"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."

Arsenal have seen Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Nasri all leave for bigger contracts at City in recent seasons.

Wenger accepts having to battle against richer clubs is now part and parcel of the modern game.

However, the Arsenal manager refuses to believe it is just all about who has the most money.

"There are different ways to be successful in football. Money helps, but it is not the only way," said the French coach.

"I believe that the names of a club are built up through consistency of their attitude and behaviours, clubs like Arsenal and Man United or even Man City, who are 100 years old or more, that's the consistency of the quality of their work that makes their name."

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