Soccer

Monday 28 July 2014

Nasri ready for crunch month

Published 02/12/2013|15:52

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Samir Nasri is hoping for a successful festive period

Samir Nasri knows the crunch could come for Manchester City this month as they look to reel in Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal.

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Manager Manuel Pellegrini has stated his desire to top the table by new year, an ambition that could obviously hinge around the Gunners' visit to the Etihad Stadium on December 14.

But around that fixture are a series of equally important away games in the next three weeks in which City must seek to address their travelling deficiencies.

While City have a 100 per cent home league record - maintained with a 3-0 defeat of Swansea on Sunday - they have lost four out of six on the road.

That quirky statistic is undermining their title challenge and Nasri accepts it must be addressed this week as City travel to West Brom on Wednesday and Southampton next Saturday.

The Frenchman, looking to maintain the form that saw him score twice against the Swans, said: "We have a tough week, we are playing two games away from home.

"The most important thing now is to recover from this game and be ready against West Brom because we have to improve our form away from home.

"We have to mind the gap with Arsenal before we play them here and we have two games away from home.

"We have to show the same mentality and the same desire we have at home. We are a good team but now we have to show it away from home."

City's victory over Swansea lifted them to third in the table, but still six points behind Arsenal.

In all competitions five of their next six games before Christmas are away from home.

Defender Gael Clichy believes the away results are just an anomaly.

He said: "It's great to play in a team like this. We have great players and, at home, with the fans behind us, it seems to work better than it does away.

"But taking game after game will be a key point for us and hopefully we can now improve our away record.

"You have to look at the positive side - even though we lost against Cardiff, Aston Villa and Sunderland away, we still managed to play better than the opposition.

"This is a new team with a new manager and new players and we are only going to get better.

"We are confident it will get better, hopefully starting on Wednesday."

City, 6-0 victors over Tottenham the previous week, looked like they were going to cruise to another comfortable home victory against Swansea.

They had two good chances before Alvaro Negredo opened the scoring after eight minutes and hit the bar through Martin Demichelis soon after.

But Swansea responded well and dominated the rest of the first half.

They should have equalised when Jonathan de Guzman shot over with just the goalkeeper to beat before half-time but City upped the tempo after the break.

Nasri settled the game with strikes in the 58th and 77th minutes after good balls from Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta.

While City will turn their attention to their away form, Swansea might be pleased to have back-to-back home games coming up.

Michael Laudrup's side have hit a sticky spell with just one win in eight games in all competitions since mid-October.

In-form Newcastle - beaten twice by Swansea last season - visit the Liberty Stadium in midweek before Hull make the journey to south Wales.

Goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, who played at Eastlands as Michel Vorm was not deemed sufficiently match-fit, told the club's website, www.swanseacity.net: "These two home games are very important.

"We knew before today that it would be difficult to take anything away from Manchester City - but in terms of passing and possession we can take a lot of positives.

"I think they (Newcastle) struggled a bit last season with the amount of games, particularly in the Europa League.

"But they are on a good run, have good players and it will be a difficult game. But at home, we can beat anyone."

Press Association

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