Liverpool are title contenders, warns Mancini

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes his side could be facing one of their title rivals as they travel to Liverpool tomorrow.

Mancini is expecting the champions to be given a stern challenge at Anfield despite the Merseysiders’ unimpressive start to the campaign.

“I think Liverpool will fight for the title this year because they play well, they bought good players, they have a good manager and they have changed their style of play,” he said.

“Every game you play at Anfield is really tough. They come from a game against West Bromwich where they didn’t deserve to lose but football is strange. For this I think it will be a hard game.”

City were made to come from behind for their opening win against Southampton while chief rivals Manchester United were beaten at Everton. And with Liverpool having changed manager, Mancini does not believe much should be read into their result at The Hawthorns.

“They can have a problem in the first month like all teams when they change the manager or some players, but I think they have a strong team for the title.

“When Liverpool play at home it is always difficult for the opponents.”

City will be without last season’s top scorer Sergio Aguero after the Argentina striker suffered a knee injury early in the 3-2 defeat of promoted Southampton at the Etihad Stadium. The problem is not as bad as first feared but Aguero is still expected to be out until mid-September.

That has not stopped Argentina naming him in their squad for their World Cup qualifiers on September 7 and 11, as is their right under international rules, but Mancini says he will not be fit enough to play.

“Maybe after the international break he will be ready – three or four weeks. It’s a bad knee injury but not for six months – two or three weeks.”

Mancini is hoping to strengthen his squad before next week’s transfer deadline but gave little away as he was questioned on it.

“I am sure we will do what we want in one week. We can’t say a name or how many players, but in the last days we will be working.”

Another player reportedly of interest to Mancini is Athletic Bilbao midfielder or defender Javi Martinez but the City boss claims he is too expensive.

The Spaniard, also a rumoured target for Bayern Munich, is thought to have a £31m release clause in his contract.


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