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City plot assault on United’s seven-point lead

With Premier League leaders Manchester United not playing until Sunday, champions Manchester City can close to within four points of their title rivals by beating Fulham on Saturday.

United have looked imperious in recent weeks, picking up 31 points from a possible 33 to establish a seven-point lead over second-place City, who have let 10 points slip over the same period.

However, on Sunday United visit Tottenham Hotspur, who have lost just once in 10 matches and who won 3-2 at Old Trafford when the sides last met in September.

With third-place Chelsea also preparing for a problematic assignment at home to Arsenal on the same day, City will hope this weekend marks the start of their fightback in the title race.

Although United show no sign of slowing, City full-back Pablo Zabaleta says his colleagues have not lost hope and will draw inspiration from the way they pipped Alex Ferguson’s men to the English crown last season.

‘We know that we are up against a rival in United who are in a very good moment,’ he said. ‘They have seven points more, but that is not much in this league. There is still a long way before the title is decided.

‘We hope United have a few games where they lose some points and we continue on this route, taking three points all the time.’

Saturday also sees action for the bottom five clubs all. Newcastle United, two places above the relegation places, host second-bottom Reading, while Aston Villa will bid to arrest their worrying slide down the standings when they visit Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.

Rocked bottom Queens Park Rangers travel to manager Harry Redknapp’s former club West Ham.


GUARDIOLA LINK DIDN’T FAZE MANCINI

LONDON: Roberto Mancini on Friday said that he was never concerned about the prospect of Pep Guardiola taking his job at Man City, despite speculation before the Spaniard joined Bayern Munich. I did not have any problems about the speculations,’ he said. ‘Newspapers write that every day every manager wants to come here because it’s a good place.’
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