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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini expecting 'strong' Liverpool challenge

Updated: Friday, 24 Aug 2012 10:53 | Comments

'We played a bad game, we were not a team,' Mancini said of the Southampton match
'We played a bad game, we were not a team,' Mancini said of the Southampton match

Manchester City face their first away test as champions when they travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini's side began the defence of their Barclays Premier League crown with a hard-fought 3-2 win over promoted Southampton last weekend.

City needed to come from behind to ensure a winning start after conceding twice in the second half at the Etihad Stadium.

It was far from the 4-0 stroll against Swansea with which City began last season and Mancini is not expecting things to get any easier at Anfield.

"We always play a tough match in the second game," said the Italian, whose side held off Bolton 3-2 in their second outing last term. "Liverpool will be a very strong game."

Liverpool caused City problems last term as the sides fought out a 1-1 league draw at Anfield before the Merseysiders beat Mancini's men in the League Cup semi-finals.

The Reds have opened their campaign badly, crashing 3-0 at West Brom in new manager Brendan Rodgers' first league game in charge, but Mancini feels his own men must step up.

"We played a bad game, we were not a team," he said of the Southampton match.

"We were 10 players that tried to score. We showed our character but we didn't play as a team.

"This could be normal in the first game but if we want to win, we have to play as a team."

City will be without last season's top scorer Sergio Aguero, who suffered a knee injury early in the opening win but is not likely to be missing as long as first feared.

In his absence fellow Argentinian Carlos Tevez, rejuvenated after last season's problems, is likely to continue to lead the line.

Midfield talisman Yaya Toure is confident City can cope with the challenges facing them this season.

The Ivory Coast international said: "The Premier league is not easy, it is going to be very tough this year.

"But I have full confidence in my team-mates, we always fight and try to win games."

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