Friday, October 31, 2014 2:25 am
Scarred by a run of three games without victory, misfiring Premier League champions Manchester City will attempt to reassert their authority when they host derby rivals Manchester United this weekend.
Having blown a two-goal lead to draw at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, City fell six points behind league leaders Chelsea after losing at West Ham United and were then knocked out of the League Cup by Newcastle United.
Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at home to Newcastle came despite City manager Manuel Pellegrini fielding a strong team, and goalkeeper Joe Hart has called on his team-mates to raise their game against United on Sunday.
“Not everyone’s exactly at their peak at the moment, but we just need a few players, myself included, to step up,” the England goalkeeper, who was rested against Newcastle, told Sky Sports News.
“It will come back. It’s just one of those difficult patches that we’ve gone through many a time. Last season, we had less points and were in a worse position (at this stage of the season), and we won the league.
“We’ve got to look to things like that, but the main thing is to get it right on Sunday.”
David Silva is a doubt for City after going off against Newcastle with a knee injury, but Yaya Toure is expected to feature despite being substituted in the second half as a precaution over a groin complaint.
Wayne Rooney, the leading scorer in Manchester derbies with 11 goals, has completed a three-match suspension and is set to return to the United attack despite reports he has sustained a foot injury.
A 94th-minute equaliser by Robin van Persie earned Louis van Gaal’s United a morale-boosting 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea last weekend.
United lost 4-1 and 3-0 to City last season, but victory at the Etihad would take them to within a point of the champions.