‘Boring’ City look to bounce back against Blues

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LONDON: Manchester City assistant manager David Platt has urged his players to bounce back with victory over Birmingham after their goal-less Premier League stalemate in the Manchester derby.
City’s tactics against arch-rivals Manchester United on Wednesday have been widely criticised as negative following 90 minutes of risk-free football where neither goalkeeper was seriously tested.
Yet Platt has shrugged off criticism of the performance, noting that City remain in fourth place and on course to achieve their goal of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“A lot of City supporters look at our team and think we should be beating Manchester United,” Platt said. “But the season comes down to far more than just one match. A win for City over Birmingham on Saturday could see Roberto Mancini’s side leapfrog Arsenal, who travel to Everton on Sunday, from fourth to third.
Second placed Manchester United meanwhile travel to Aston Villa in Saturday’s early kick-off, knowing that a win will cut Chelsea’s lead at the top to one point ahead of their game with Sunderland on Sunday. United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said the Red Devils could ill afford another draw at Villa Park after sharing the points on no fewer than five occasions already this season.
“A draw against Manchester City is acceptable,” van der Sar said. “The draws against Everton, Fulham and West Brom are hurting us more.” Both Patrice Evra and fullback Rafael could miss the trip for United. Liverpool meanwhile will hope to get back to winning ways at Stoke after their mini-revival faltered at Wigan in midweek.
Roy Hodgson’s side looked on course for a 4th straight league win on Wednesday after the familiar double act of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres set up the opening goal.
However Liverpool were eventually held 1-1, jolting the Reds out of their winning run. The Merseysiders will visit a Stoke side buoyant after a rollercoaster 3-2 win against Birmingham on the same night Liverpool were drawing at Wigan.
Chelsea meanwhile will begin life without long-serving assistant coach Ray Wilkins, who was unceremoniously fired Thursday amid reports that manager Carlo Ancelotti wanted to inject fresh ideas at Stamford Bridge.