City left exposed - Mancini

City left exposed - Mancini

Published Jan. 16, 2012 7:15 a.m. ET

For a variety of reasons, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany all missed the midweek Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool.

Kolo Toure was absent too, while Mario Balotelli was replaced before half-time after aggravating an ankle problem.

Of that quintet, only Silva is likely to make tonight's trip to Wigan, when City look for a win that would re-establish their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

And while Mancini is receiving little sympathy for his plight given the vast amount of money that has been lavished on his squad over the past two years, the Italian is adamant only one side could successfully overcome the problems he is faced with.


"Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no," he said.

"In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now.

"When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football.

"Every year in every squad you have one difficult moment. At the moment we are not strong and we have lost important players, so it is difficult."

It is why midfielder Gareth Barry believes all eyes will be on the Blues at the DW Stadium.

The weekend results have turned it into a top-versus-bottom clash.

But Wolves were in exactly the same position when they ended Manchester United's unbeaten run last term and, with Wigan drawing at home against both Chelsea and Liverpool recently, Barry knows better than for City to take anything for granted.

"This is the time when people will really be watching us, to see how we respond to this sticky patch," he said.

"If it means going there, not playing great football and battling to get a victory, we might have to do that.

"You can't dominate the whole league playing fantastic football and winning every game easily. Sometimes you have to battle and scrape a result in the last minute.

"Wigan is set up for that sort of game. Everyone in the dressing room has to roll up their sleeves and be ready to do it."

Barry recognises Wigan are a strange side, who lost eight games in a row at one point before mounting a spirited revival in what appeared to be an immensely difficult run of fixtures.

Even in there were vast swings in form. Unlucky not to claim maximum points against Chelsea, yet hammered by Arsenal and Manchester United either side.

The only team to beat Sunderland since Martin O'Neill's arrival when they triumphed at the Stadium of Light, badly beaten on home soil by the same opposition five weeks later.

"Wigan are a funny sort of side," said Barry.

"On occasion they can really perform but sometimes they roll over.

"It's a game where we have to concentrate on ourselves and perform to our highest ability because if Wigan play their best game it will be tough.

"Their manager likes to play a bit of football and they have players with some flair who will try to take the game to us."

With Kompany serving the second game of his four-match ban, Montenegro defender Stefan Savic is set to continue in central defence even though the 21-year-old looked ill at ease as he squared up to Andy Carroll last week.

Mancini could opt to play stand-in skipper Micah Richards alongside Joleon Lescott, with Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.

However, it is a measure of how depleted his squad is at present that Mancini has even put Nedum Onuoha's proposed move away from the Etihad Stadium on hold.

"Now he is here because we need him for two or three weeks until Vincent comes back," confirmed Mancini.

"After that there is a chance he goes because that would be better for him."