Man City faces last title hurdles
MANCHESTER City is steeling itself for a final assault on the Premier League at Newcastle tomorrow, where victory over the Magpies will leave it on the brink of the title.
After trailing bitter rival Manchester United by eight points less than a month ago, City took control of the title race at Eastlands with a gritty 1-0 win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Two more wins, over Newcastle and at home to Queens Park Rangers, will see Roberto Mancini's men pip United for the title, unless Ferguson's team can make up an eight-goal disadvantage in goal difference.
Yet Mancini insists City will not take anything for granted against a Newcastle side brimming with confidence after an impressive 2-0 win at Chelsea which kept alive its dreams of Champions League qualification.
City's fans may have revelled in the derby triumph over United which saw their team edge ahead in the title race, but Mancini has warned that it will count for nothing if it slips up against Newcastle.
''I am happy that we are here and we have this chance after being eight points behind United,'' Mancini said. ''We now have a big chance.
''But in the end, nothing has changed. We still have two games to go and in football anything can happen. You can lose or win. But the guys have worked really well and I am proud of this.''
Mancini also believes tomorrow's assignment at St James' Park, where City has won on three of its past four visits, will be more demanding than its title-decider against United.
''Against United we played at home and we played very well,'' said Mancini. ''Against Newcastle it will be harder.''
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew knows that his side is tantalisingly close to a top-four finish, something that would represent a phenomenal achievement for a club which only returned to the top flight in 2010.
''It's not often in a professional career that you get an opportunity to actually break into the top four in this country,'' Pardew said.
''We've been in and around it all year, we've touched fourth place and touched third a couple of times. We're going to give it everything.''
City's title rivals United meanwhile can only watch and wait as events unfold at Newcastle before it faces Swansea at Old Trafford in tomorrow's late kick-off.
If City fails to take maximum points, United will face Swansea knowing that a win will return the destiny of the title to its hands.
At the other end of the table, Bolton and QPR are both in action tomorrow and a slip by either could see it edge closer to relegation. AFP