Not since Boxing Day have Manchester City won a Premier League game on the road but if they can end that run at Blackburn Rovers this evening the reward will be some breathing space in the quest for a fourth-place finish and the accompanying promise of a place in the Champions League.
Their last game away from Eastlands may have been the Wembley triumph over Manchester United but manager Roberto Mancini instead reminded his players of their previous League game, a dire 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, in an attempt to keep feet on the ground. The message of "forget Wembley" is a mantra repeated across the squad, especially as it is the Champions League the club's Abu Dhabi owners crave more than most.
"We have to put that all to the back of our minds now and concentrate in finishing in the Champions League spots," said Shaun Wright-Phillips. "We're all ready for this game. Blackburn's always a hard place to go so we are prepared for a tough game. I don't think they have ever played badly against us."
City defender Pablo Zabaleta said the spirit of their FA Cup semi-final win over United should be used as inspiration. "We need to be the same as we were against United," said the Argentina international. "The game after an important win can just be as important. The passion and concentration was 100 per cent, but when you go to a lower-placed team it's sometimes different.
"Last season we were very close and it went to the last home game. We need to get to the Tottenham game two or three points ahead."
For Mancini, the lacklustre first-half showing at Liverpool last time, which saw them trail by three goals, still remains fresh in the memory. "We must remember the Liverpool game," he warned. "We have to do better than that so we know the Blackburn game is very important. It is time we started to win away again."
For a side that has struggled for goals all season, the absence of Carlos Tevez may be felt more than ever in the run-in. Much will rest on the shoulders of strikers Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli. "The most important thing is that Edin continues to work hard," added Mancini. "If he does that I'm sure the goals will start flowing for him again."Reuse content