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New-look Man City have still to click, admits Mancini

MANCHESTER City boss Roberto Mancini admits his side's stuttering start to the season could be partly down to trying to bed in new players too quickly.

The defending champions are already four points behind Chelsea after three draws from their opening five games, including yesterday's 1-1 stalemate with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners were the better side for much of the match, although they needed an 82nd-minute equaliser from Laurent Koscielny to secure a point after Joleon Lescott's first-half header.

Defensive midfielder Javi Garcia played the full 90 minutes while winger Scott Sinclair also made the starting line-up, although he was replaced at half-time by another summer signing, Jack Rodwell.

All three players were signed in August, while Garcia, Sinclair and defender Maicon did not arrive at the club until the final day of the transfer window, which Mancini admits has presented a challenge.

The Italian said: "We had new players only in the last two or three days of the market, and maybe these players don't know their team-mates well and need time."

City dropped only two points at home all season last campaign, drawing with Sunderland in March, and Mancini knows they need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

He said: ""The second year after winning a championship is always difficult and I hope we start to win in our next league game, because we need a win. But we need to improve if we are to do that."

City are back in action tomorrow in the third round of the Capital One Cup against Aston Villa, where Mancini is likely to change his whole team, before a trip to London on Saturday to face in-form Fulham.

Lescott admitted dropping points at home so early in the season is a blow but he believes City deserve credit for digging in.

He said: "We probably didn't get going as much as we'd like but we showed another side of our game is resilience and unfortunately for us we conceded late on.

"We didn't get in a rhythm for long enough. Arsenal made it hard for us at times and they're a good team, so it's not a negative result but we're used to winning at home and we're bitterly disappointed to concede."

The defender headed in David Silva's corner in the 40th minute for his first goal for City since February, but Koscielny's equaliser took the shine off for the England international.

Lescott said: "It's always nice to score goals and it would have been extra special to have won it 1-0 having scored and keeping our first clean sheet, but it wasn't to be."

The 30-year-old was back in the side after surprisingly being left on the bench for the Champions League defeat against Real Madrid last week, and he knows rotation comes with the territory.

"The gaffer made it clear that everyone's got a part to play this season, and it was the same last year," said Lescott. "It worked for us last year and we need to stay focused on the job, and that's to go into every game to win."

Mancini will include youngsters Denis Suarez, Abdul Razak and Luca Scapuzzi in the squad for tomorrow's game while Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli are likely to lead the line after only being used as substitutes against Arsenal.

But City will be without four players after James Milner and Maicon joined Samir Nasri and Micah Richards on the sidelines.

Maicon took a kick to his leg against Madrid and is unlikely to be out for long but Milner is seeing a specialist today about a toe problem.

Mancini admits he does not know what the prognosis will be, saying: "Milner has a problem in his toe. He has pain. He will see a specialist on Monday and after that we'll decide what to do."

PA Media