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Roberto Mancini predicts strong finish from Manchester City

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says there is much more to come from his team now their fixture schedule is not so congested.

The Italian believes they are running into top form at the right time and was heartened by the thumping victory over Sunderland.

Next up are Liverpool on Monday at Anfield, where City will be looking to continue their push for a Champions League place.

Then the following weekend they face derby rivals Manchester United in a highly-anticipated FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Mancini is pleased with City's attacking options as five different players - Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure - scored against Sunderland.

Now he looking for his side to replicate that kind of performance on the road, knowing it will be tough on Merseyside.

Mancini said: "The players are looking fresher. We had problems when we played every three days. Now most of the players are available and that is important.

"All the team played well against Sunderland. To score five goals from five different players was good for us. We played well because the players were rested.

"Our mentality should be the same whether we are at home or away. We can improve, we can score more goals.

"Now is the time to start winning more away matches. Every game we play to win but that is not always possible.

"We have always had a good spirit this year but it has improved a lot. There were times we were really tired because we had a number of injured players.

"But at this moment things are good. But if we want that to continue we need to keep winning."

Mancini expects Liverpool to be a different proposition to the side they defeated 3-0 in August at Eastlands.

Then Roy Hodgson was in charge. Now Kenny Dalglish is caretaker-manager and their fortunes have improved.

Mancini said: "Dalglish is a fantastic manager. He was an incredible player, I remember him very well. Liverpool are a very strong team, especially when they play at home.

"They lost two important players in (Javier) Mascherano and (Fernando) Torres but they bought (Luis) Suarez, (Andy )Carroll as well as other good players. It will be a very hard game."

Pablo Zabaleta returns to the squad after returning home to Argentina to visit his father, who was seriously injured in a car crash.

Gareth Barry, James Milner and Edin Dzeko are all pushing for places in the team after being rested on Sunday.

Former Middlesbrough winger Johnson looks set to retain his place in the side after a glowing report from Mancini, who said: "He is an important player for the team. When he was injured it was difficult for us."