Updated: Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 @ 4:41pm

Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero call on stuttering Manchester City to keep their title defence on track

Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero call on stuttering Manchester City to keep their title defence on track

By Ed Owen

Manchester City stars Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero have told team-mates they need to rise to the challenge if they are to retain the Premier League.

Following their shock loss against Sunderland on Boxing Day, City go to Carrow Road seven points behind arch-rivals Manchester United in their chase for the title.

And England goalkeeper Hart believes City have to adapt to the defensive tactics employed by other sides looking to shut out the champions.

“We weren’t lacking in effort at Sunderland,” he said. “We gave it everything but couldn’t break through a defensive wall.

“No-one else needs to know what gets said in the dressing room, it’s down to us to put things right.

“We have dominated a lot of games but people play differently against us now as opposed to last season – we have to adjust to that and hopefully the second half of the season will be better for us.”

The loss on Wearside condemned Roberto Mancini’s men to only three wins in nine games and has seen neighbours United pull away.

But Aguero has refused to give up the chase, instead encouraging the team to pull together to overhaul their city rivals.

The 24-year-old Argentine thinks City are not playing to the best of their ability in their season as Premier League champions, but can easily bounce back.

“Beyond who is on the field, the important part is that we all work together for the same goal,” he said. “What we all want is to defend City’s hard-earned title.

“For that we need everyone playing well and to start winning again straight away.

“We have to keep working to get ourselves back to our best form and keep our ambitions in sight.”

Saturday’s fixture against Norwich is City’s last game of 2012, with Stoke City travelling to the Etihad Stadium on New Year’s Day.

In team news, the champions welcome back midfielder Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy from injury, whileCarlos Tevez is fit despite missing training with illness but Mario Balotelli is doubtful with a virus.

Image courtesy of Manchester City, via YouTube, with thanks

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