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No bust-up with Mario

MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini has today denied rumours of another row with striker Mario Balotelli ahead of Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Arsenal.

The 22-year-old star was left out of the squad that faced Real Madrid in Champions League action on Tuesday night, fuelling rumours that tensions have flared once again between the two Italians. However, Mancini declared at a press conference today that such talk was “false".

“This story is totally false,” said the City chief.

“Mario went in the stand only because we started to play with Carlos Tevez in attack and we couldn't have three strikers on the bench.

“There has been no argument, and no row. Absolutely not.”

Mancini confirmed striker Sergio Aguero was fit to start against the Gunners in Sunday afternoon’s clash at Eastlands, as is Balotelli.

However, Samir Nasri looks set to miss the tie against his old club with a hamstring injury.

Defender Joleon Lescott will hope to reclaim his place but right-back Micah Richards (ankle) remains sidelined.

Meanwhile, Gareth Barry has urged City to rediscover the form that made them champions.

City have won just two of their five competitive games, coming from behind to beat promoted Southampton on the opening weekend and then seeing off QPR 3-1.


They also had to come from behind to snatch draws at Liverpool and Stoke, while on Tuesday they |conspired to concede twice in the final three minutes to lose against Real when victory was in sight.

“It has not been an ideal start to the season,” the England midfielder said.

“We finished last season with a great defensive record.

“This time we are scoring a lot of goals but conceding at the same time. I am sure as the season goes on it is something we can work on.”

City have won four of their last five home games against the Gunners.

Their only recent setback came in 2010, when Dedryck Boyata was sent off just five minutes into a 3-0 defeat.