Publicly Roberto Mancini says
the Premier League title race is already over but the Manchester
City boss knows victory at Norwich City on Saturday would have
his side breathing down the necks of leaders Manchester United
with four games to go.
United's shock 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday
combined with City's 4-0 home rout of West Bromwich Albion cut
the gap at the top to five points and that can be shaved to two
before United host Aston Villa on Sunday.
While the odds are still heavily stacked in United's favour,
a City win at Carrow Road would add some pressure on the
leaders, who travel across town to face their closest rivals on
"I think United is a fantastic team and I don't think that
they will drop five points," Mancini told the club's website.
"It is important for us to finish well because this is the
best season for Manchester City since we won the championship in
1968. This is not mind games, United have fantastic experience
and we don't have it!
"Our fans believe and we play for them. I will fight and my
team will fight everyday but it may be too late."
With Carlos Tevez restored to the starting line-up against
West Brom, City played with a freedom not seen in recent weeks
on Wednesday, although a trip to a Norwich side that beat
fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on Monday will be a test of the
away form that has undermined their title tilt.
City could be boosted by the return of Yaya Toure for the
lunchtime kick-off after the midfielder limped off in the 1-0
defeat at Arsenal last Sunday - a loss that appeared to have
sealed another title for United.
"He has a problem with his knee but I do not think it is
serious and he could be back at the weekend," Mancini said.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson shrugged off Wednesday's defeat
at Wigan, a result that is more likely to prove just a blip as
they secure a record 20th English league title, while Welsh
winger Ryan Giggs, veteran of 12 previous title campaigns, said
United traditionally recovered well from setbacks.
"It is important [to beat Villa and Everton in the upcoming
home fixtures]," Giggs told MUTV. "We're at Old Trafford and at
home and we'll be looking to win both games and put the pressure
on. Throughout the season, we've had poor performances and poor
results but we've always bounced back."
With Tottenham playing Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and
Newcastle United not in action, Arsenal can move eight points
clear in the race for third place with victory over Wigan
Athletic on Monday at Emirates Stadium.
At the other end of the table, bottom club Wolverhampton
Wanderers could be all but relegated if they lose at Sunderland
but there is still genuine hope for some of the other sides
scrapping in the basement.
Queens Park Rangers, two points above the bottom three,
could go a long way towards ensuring top flight safety if they
win at West Brom on Saturday while Blackburn Rovers would move
out of the bottom three with victory at Swansea City.
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