West Brom-Manchester City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Manchester City look to keep their Premier League title challenge alive Monday when they welcome relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion to the Etihad Stadium.

Manuel Pellegrini's City (22-5-6) went from title favourites to possible outsiders in the space of four days with a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool last weekend and a shock 2-2 draw at home with last-place Sunderland in midweek. However, with two games in hand over their rivals in the title race, City remain contenders despite those dropped points.

"I think that every one of us will be frustrated if we don't win the league because if we were favourites, it is because of the way we played the whole part of the year, not because we were leading the table," Pellegrini said. "But I will evaluate the season when we finish it. It's not good to have an evaluation of the year at this moment because we have to play another five games. If we win those five games we'll see what happens with the other teams.

I am absolutely sure that teams will drop more points. It can be Liverpool or Chelsea, the same way we dropped points the last game. We have to play for another 15 points. We will try to win the most amount of points and at the end of the season we will see which team wins the title."

Visitors West Brom (6-15-12) have lost just two of their last eight matches, but remain very much in threat of relegation despite their improvement under manager Pepe Mel. Conceding last-minute equalisers in two of their last three matches saw the Baggies draw 3-3 with both Cardiff City and Tottenham Hotspur, with last week's draw against Spurs coming after being 3-0 up at halftime.

The Baggies will be looking for a win to pull themselves away from the bottom three, but the omens aren't good. They have lost four straight to City and are winless in the last eight between the teams, while City have a dominant league record at the Etihad, with 19 wins in their last 22 matches while outscoring opponents 61-16 in that run.

However, manager Mel admitted that his side still have hope of picking up points in Manchester, and will be looking to the performance of Sunderland in Wednesday's 2-2 draw at the Etihad as inspiration.

"The Manchester City v Sunderland game is something we have to look at and is very positive for us," said the Baggies boss, who has enjoyed a positive week with his players on and off the pitch. "It shows it is possible to get points at Manchester City.

"If we want to get points at Manchester City what we need to do is score goals and in order to score goals we'll need to make sure Man City are worried about defending. The only thing we're talking about is winning. We really haven't considered anything else. In football anyone can beat anyone else so we're going there looking for the victory."

Yaya Toure (groin) and Matija Nastasic (knee) are out for Man City, who also have injury doubts over Jesus Navas (ankle) and David Silva (ankle). West Brom have concerns over the fitness of Jonas Olsson (calf), James Morrison (ankle) and Zoltan Gera (hamstring).

City ran out narrow 3-2 winners when these teams met at the Hawthorns back in December. Sergio Aguero's opener and a Toure brace earned the points for Pellegrini's side.

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