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Mancini: Looking to close the gap

Mancini: Looking to close the gap

Manchester City will look to close the gap on rivals Manchester United when they welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

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After their disappointing stalemate with Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening, the champions saw current league leaders stretch their advantage to seven points with a 2-1 win over Southampton.

City are on 52 points and can either close the gap to four or keep it at seven depending on United's result against Fulham on Saturday.

Failure to win against Liverpool could severely dent the Citizens' hopes of retaining the Premier League title.

Roberto Mancini will be without Vincent Kompany for the visit of the Reds, the talismanic captain expected to be out for up to four weeks with a calf strain, while fellow defenders Micah Richards and Maicon (both knee) remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

In addition, the departure of controversial striker Mario Balotelli to Milan has restricted Mancini's striking options and the Italian will have to make do with a combination of Argentinians Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Bosnian Edin Dzeko after choosing not to sign a replacement.

Liverpool, meanwhile, who currently sit in seventh place on 35 points were lucky to escape with a point against Arsenal in midweek despite going 2-0 up, surviving a second half onslaught from the Gunners to take a share of the spoils.

The Reds were outplayed for most of the game and scored both goals against the run of play with Arsenal's calamitous defending more responsible for them taking the lead than any brilliance on their part.

Brendan Rodgers, though, will surely look to take three points of the champions but the Northern Irishman will need a massive performance from his charges if the Etihad side is to be the place they win their first match against a team placed higher than them in the table.

The Mersey side club are virtually full strength for the trip to Manchester with only Martin Kelly, who is out for the season with an ACL tear, unavailable.

Expect Rodgers to pair the controversial Luis Suarez and their latest acquisition Daniel Sturridge up front at Eastlands.

Posted: 01/02/13 15:35

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