De Jong defiant over title tilt

The Premier League leaders have stuttered since Christmas,

suffering a shock 1-0 loss at Sunderland after a frustrating

goalless draw at West Brom. City still top the table from

Manchester United on goal difference but face another tough test as

Liverpool visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night. De Jong told

City TV: “We win with each other, we lose with each other. “We have

to take this one on board, discuss it and see what went wrong and

just go on to the next game.” That City have failed to score in

their last two games comes as a surprise after they hit the net 53

times in their previous 17 games. Roberto Mancini’s men had spells

of dominance at The Hawthorns on Boxing Day and the Stadium of

Light on New Year’s Day but they found both opponents in resolute

mood. De Jong added: “In most of our games we have dominated

possession. “That doesn’t say anything if you don’t score a goal.

Then you can’t win, obviously.” De Jong himself made his first

start for City since November in the last-gasp defeat to the Black

Cats. The 27-year-old Holland international was a key member of

last season’s FA Cup-winning side but has fallen down the pecking

order since a spell out in August and September with a foot injury.

Mancini accepts he may be frustrated with the situation but the

City boss insists the tough-tackling World Cup finalist remains an

important member of his squad. The Italian said: “Nigel had too

many problems when we started the season, two months off for

injury. “After this the squad played a different system with two

strikers, two offensive players like wingers and only two

midfielders. “For this reason Nigel did not play a lot of games but

he is still an important player. There is no change in this

situation. Now he can play. “I think it is normal that one player,

when he doesn’t play, is frustrated. “For him it is difficult but

now we are playing five games in 16 days and we need our players.”