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Cup final can make or break a season – Nasri

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Manchester City's Yaya Toure runs away to celebrate after scoring the winning goal

Manchester City's Yaya Toure runs away to celebrate after scoring the winning goal

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester City's Samir Nasri battles for the ball with Stoke City's Charlie Adam

Manchester City's Samir Nasri battles for the ball with Stoke City's Charlie Adam

Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Manchester City's Martin Demichelis challenges Stoke City's Peter Crouch

Manchester City's Martin Demichelis challenges Stoke City's Peter Crouch

REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Manchester City's Edin Dzeko misses an open goal against Stoke City

Manchester City's Edin Dzeko misses an open goal against Stoke City

Martin Rickett/PA Wire

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Manchester City's Yaya Toure runs away to celebrate after scoring the winning goal

Still chasing silverware on four fronts, Manchester City have their first chance of a trophy against Sunderland in the League Cup final on Sunday, but Samir Nasri is no stranger to how quickly a season can unravel.

Three years ago, Nasri and Arsenal were in a similar situation, four points behind leaders Manchester United, in the FA Cup quarter-finals and with a 2-1 first-leg advantage from their Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona, as they prepared for the League Cup final against Birmingham.

After Obafemi Martins' 89th-minute goal gave Alex McLeish's side a shock victory, Arsene Wenger's side fell apart, managing just two more wins in their remaining 14 matches.

There is little wonder, then, why Nasri is in no doubt about how pivotal Sunday could be.

"I don't have good memories in the cup because I lost the final with Arsenal," Nasri said. "It can be (a good platform for the rest of the season) but I have the experience with Arsenal. So a win would be really important for us and for the confidence."

Yaya Toure turned in from Aleksandar Kolarov's cross with 20 minutes remaining to keep City three points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. Nasri feels the win over Stoke could prove to be significant.

"It was a boost for the team. After the midweek defeat, we were all down, because of the circumstances but we did the job," he said.

"We were not really fresh and playing against a team who has 10 at the back is always difficult, especially after playing a team like Barcelona.

"You don't have to rush against these kinds of teams, just because they are bigger, taller than you. You have to play and that's what we did."

While Stevan Jovetic is likely to be on the sidelines once again after a hamstring problem forced him off just 12 minutes into his appearance as a substitute, Sergio Aguero is set to return to full training tomorrow.

With Alvaro Negredo working his way back to fitness after a shoulder injury and Edin Dzeko, who flicked a shot against his own leg three yards from an open goal, misfiring, Aguero's return is timely.

"Aguero can give us all a huge lift, not just for the cup final but for the rest of the season because, for me, he is one of the top five players in the world," Pellegrini said. "He has been unlucky this season. He has had two long injuries but when he's fit, he is a player who can make the difference.

"I'm expected to win trophies here, so I will be very happy to win on Sunday with the style of football we have been playing."

Stoke are only three points above City's League Cup opponents in 18th spot. "When we're going up against teams in and around us, we take maximum points rather than patting ourselves on the back because we've put in a good performance and been beaten," Mark Hughes said.

"It was important to come here and not be steamrolled like the majority of teams. Goal difference is going to be key." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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