Mancini plays up ’fighter’ Tevez

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has no concerns about the form of influential striker Carlos Tevez.

After the problems of last season, the Argentinian has been restored to prominence at the forefront of City’s attack.

He began the campaign with four goals in as many games but then hit a barren spell and has scored just three since. Two of them came against Aston Villa a fortnight ago but Tevez has had to settle for a place among the subs for the past three games.

Mancini said: “No, I’m not disappointed about this form recently. About Carlos I can say nothing (critical) because when he plays, even if he is not 100%, he’s a fighter, he puts everything he can on the pitch, so I can’t say anything against him. But it is clear we want our strikers to be scoring goals and this moment Carlos is not strong and for this reason he was on the bench in the last three games.

“But tomorrow that could change, or in the derby. He’s not 100% because he has played many games and that is why at the moment he is not so good.”

City take on Everton at the Etihad Stadium today before travelling to Germany for their final Champions League group game against Borussia Dortmund. They then face Manchester United the following Sunday.

One player Mancini is hoping for more from is playmaker Samir Nasri. The Frenchman has not made a consistent impact since joining City in a £24 million move from Arsenal last year.

The 25-year-old was also left out of the squad for the midweek trip to Wigan as a precaution against a calf problem. Mancini said: “In my opinion we are talking about a top, top player here. If he wants he can change every game, but I think he can do better. He has played some good games for us but he can do better because he has everything.

“I don’t think he has struggled. We are talking about a player like Nasri or (Yaya) Toure or (David) Silva — we always think they can change every game they play because they are capable of doing that. But sometimes in spells when we are playing a lot of games in a short space of time, like at the moment, a player can be tired.

“Samir also had a problem with his calf in the last two games but I wait for him to play always a fantastic game because he can do this.”

The Manchester clubs have opened up a gap at the top of the Premier League with Chelsea now six points behind second-placed City. That has led to some seeing the title race as a fight between City and United but Mancini is not writing off the prospects of the Londoners.

When asked if Chelsea can still compete, Mancini said: “Yes they can. Why not? “They had done a good job until recently. They have a strong team and strong mentality. The season is long and in February, when the Champions League starts, everything can change.”

For his part, Everton manager David Moyes is confident his team can level the playing field against City today despite the huge contrast in financial resources between the clubs.

“It (the match) is maybe the ones who have and the ones who have not possibly but when we cross the white line tomorrow no-one is thinking what they’ve got and what we’ve not got,” said Moyes.

“At the end of the day it is 11 versus 11 and if we can continue the record of making it hard for them and upsetting them then we will.”

Moyes’ recent record against City is good, particularly, at the Etihad Stadium where last year’s defeat came after victories in four successive seasons.

Mancini’s side are undefeated in 36 Premier League home matches, dating back almost two years to December 2010, but that does not concern Moyes.

“We didn’t have a good record there against them last year because we lost but we played well and did a job on them,” said the Toffees boss.

“They were very good at that time and we did a man-marking job on David Silva and I think we got to about 68 minutes before we conceded.’’

Everton have drawn six of their last eight matches, which has resulted in their slip from second place in September to their current sixth spot. Moyes knows his side need to find more goals to kill off games and is looking for striker Nikica Jelavic to rediscover his early-season form after finding the net just once in his last seven appearances.

“We want him to hold the ball up, bring people into the game, and he created one or two opportunities against Arsenal and had one great made by himself where he should at least hit the target,” he added.

“That was a bit more like it, it was more encouraging, and let’s hope he continues that.’’


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