City aim to ramp up pressure on leaders United

The league champions can close to within four points of their Manchester rivals, who play tomorrow, when they take on Fulham at home

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 3:23am


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

United have looked imperious, 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, tomorrow 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.

Whereas United and Chelsea were both in action in mid-week - United edging West Ham United in an FA Cup third-round replay and Chelsea drawing 2-2 at home to Southampton in the league - City have benefited from a week off.

Roberto Mancini's side have also been boosted by captain Vincent Kompany's successful appeal against the red card he was shown in last weekend's 2-0 win at Arsenal, which would have ruled him out of the home game with Fulham.

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 and there is still a margin to lose and recover.

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

Today could also be an important day at the other end of the table, with the bottom five clubs all in action.

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.

Fresh from their victory over West Brom in the FA Cup on Tuesday, bottom side Queens Park Rangers travel to manager Harry Redknapp's former club West Ham.

QPR will hope to hand a debut to French striker Loic Remy, who has revealed that a games console session with Malaysian chairman Tony Fernandes helped persuade him to join the London club from Marseille.

Remy, who was also a target for Newcastle United, has signed a four-and-a-half year contract with the Loftus Road club and claims that after four hours of negotiations with Fernandes, the deal was clinched when talks became less formal.

"It was a special moment that followed our chat about QPR," he said. "We just played a game of Fifa - it was good and showed to me what a good person Tony is.

"He showed his human side to me as an owner of the club I wanted to join. It was a special moment for us both."

QPR have four points from their past two Premier League games, against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.