• Premier League

Mancini: City cannot afford to lose the derby

ESPN staff
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Roberto Mancini has declared that Manchester City cannot afford to lose Sunday's derby clash against Manchester United.

The defending champions go into the game at the Etihad Stadium three point behind the league leaders, with a defeat leaving them six points adrift of United.

And Mancini insisted Sir Alex Ferguson's team are stronger than his own, better than they were last year and favourites in the title race now.

He said: "They can lose because they have three points more. We have three points less and we can't lose. I think they are better than us in this moment but a derby is a derby.

"They have a small advantage but a derby is a really difficult match for both teams. United are favourites [for the title] but is not the [whole] season because we have seven months afterwards."

Mancini hopes playmaker David Silva will recover from a hamstring injury to take his place in the City side and will give fitness tests to James Milner and Gael Clichy on Sunday morning.

But Aleksandar Kolarov's ankle injury will rule him out while Micah Richards remains sidelined.

Mancini believes United are a superior team after their summer acquisitions of Robin van Persie, who was a target for City, and Shinji Kagawa.

"They were a strong team and then they bought Van Persie and Kagawa. They put another 25 goals into the squad," he explained.

City won both Manchester derbies last season, including a 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in October 2011 that Mancini said was a season-changing match.

He added: "It was important for us because we played the first derby away and we won 6-1. There are some important games than can change your season and the derby was one of the first games like this for us."

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