Manchester City fighting to save title against Chelsea


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The Independent Football

Manchester City return to their faltering title chase this weekend knowing Manchester United and Chelsea could combine to further damage their fading hopes.

The champions face a testing visit from third-placed Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday, a day after leaders United travel to bottom side QPR bidding to open up a 15-point advantage.

Manager Roberto Mancini has suggested hopes could be revived if City halve the deficit to six points before the April 8 derby at Old Trafford, but any increase in the gap could be final.

City restored confidence after their dismal loss at struggling Southampton a fortnight ago by hammering Leeds in the FA Cup last weekend but - despite memories of last year's dramatic league fightback remaining fresh - the knockout competition represents their best chance of silverware.

City accept that but intend to keep fighting on in the league.

"It ended up as a straightforward win," said midfielder Jack Rodwell, reflecting on the 4-0 demolition of Leeds in the fifth round.

"It was great to bounce back after Southampton. We were all disappointed then, and heads were down, but we turned it around in good style.

"You can see what it means to clubs - we put out a strong side against Leeds, and other clubs have been doing the same. It's a massive competition to win and we want to win it.

"English players all look at the FA Cup the same way, as a huge competition.

"I'm not sure what the foreign players think of it but I have grown up watching the FA Cup and wanting to win it, as well as the Premier League. This year is a great opportunity.

"It's probably our best chance of a trophy this season, but you never say never as we don't know what will happen in the league."

Rodwell, 21, has endured a difficult first season at the Etihad Stadium since a £12million move from Everton last summer.

The England international looked uncomfortable in his initial outings and then missed three months of the campaign with the latest in a series of hamstring injuries to have blighted his career.

He returned to action last month and is now hoping to establish himself in the side. He came off the bench in the Leeds clash and went close to scoring his first goal for the club.

He said: "I had a header that hit the bar, and I keep thinking about that if only I had headed it a little bit lower.

"I can't wait to open my scoring account with City, but I am just made up to get on."