• Premier League

City have upper hand ahead of derby trip - Mancini

ESPN staff
October 21, 2011 « O'Hara admits 'unacceptable' form | Chartbeat test »

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes his side can take great strength from the fact they will go to Old Trafford for the derby with Manchester United above their rivals at the top of the table.

An emphatic 4-1 victory over Aston Villa last weekend put City two points clear in the Premier League, after United were held to a draw against Liverpool earlier on Saturday. And Mancini believes the current standings will give his players a boost ahead of their first meeting in the league.

"It is very important because the derby is usually different from any other game. But I think this time it will be very different because for the first time in a long time we can go there on the top," Mancini said. "I think that is a good thing for us, but we know Sunday will be a very hard game because United at home are incredible.

"It is important that we go there and we are ready to play the game, ready to play well."

When asked if City's victory in last year's FA Cup semi-final gave them a psychological advantage, Mancini added: "It wasn't only important to win the game in the semi-final, but the way we played.

"I think in all the games [against United] last year we played like that - sometimes we lose, sometimes we draw, but we played well."

City will again be without Carlos Tevez, as the hearing into his alleged misconduct during the recent Champions League match against Bayern Munich continues. Mancini insists the ongoing saga with the Argentina international is not a distraction.

"We have another important game, this is the most important thing," Mancini said. "We do not have a problem. We have 24, 25 players - 25 good players. We know we can win, we can lose, we can draw - but we do not have any problems. This is football."

While currently top of the league, Mancini warned supporters not to get carried away - reminding them that the club are likely to rise and fall a few more times before the end of the season. The Italian believes United, Chelsea and Liverpool - who he says have a "strong team" - will all threaten City's title challenge.

"I'm happy for our supporters, but the season is very long," he noted. "If you want to stay there for a long time we have to try very hard. We might go back (in the table) for a bit, to second or third I don't know, but it is important to stay near."

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