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Month of love is Italian charmer’s chance: Roberto Mancini adamant Manchester United will soon yield lead

By Paddy von Behr

Manchester City will be nipping at Manchester United’s heels by the end of February, says manager Roberto Mancini ahead of City’s clash with Liverpool.

The Premier League champions are seven points adrift of United, but their Italian boss believes it is far too early to pay attention to this.

And, starting with Liverpool’s visit on Sunday, the Citizens can use this month to put some early pressure on the league leaders.

“I think that when we arrive at the end of February the gap will be very, very small,” said Mancini.

“In every championship, one team has never won the title in January.

“In April if they have a seven, eight, nine point advantage then it will be difficult for us, but until that moment we have a good chance.”

The visitors to the Etihad Stadium are on a decent run of form, despite suffering an FA Cup at the hands of League One Oldham Athletic.

And Mancini believes, as well as providing a stiff test on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers’ side are capable of securing a top-four spot this season.

He said: “If they continue to play like in the last month, because they did well, I think that they can do this.

“Liverpool is always a strong team. I watched the game against Arsenal – they played well.

“I think this will be a dangerous game on Sunday. If we want to win, we should play well and we should score when we have chances.”

The news that captain Vincent Kompany could be out for three weeks is a blow, as Kolo Toure is away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

However, Matija Nastasic should be fit to partner Joleon Lescott in defence, after Javi Garcia was forced to fill in at Queens Park Rangers in midweek.

Picture courtesy of andy brannan, with thanks.

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