Roberto Mancini has held his usual pre-match press conference ahead of City’s match against Arsenal on Sunday. The full account of what he said is available to watch on the two videos but the highlights are summarised below.
Mancini reflected on the defeat to Real Madrid, saying:
I think we should be frustrated for what’s happened in the last 5 minutes but also happy because in the second half we did a good performance. It’s not easy to score two goals in Madrid and to have a chance to win. I think next time it will be a different game. Maybe at this moment they are better than us – probably they deserved to win – but when you are 2-1 with 5 minutes to go in the Bernabeu it’s difficult to watch this [the lead slip].
I made some points about the defeat in Madrid earlier in the week but one thing which struck me about that game, and other recent matches, has been Mancini’s reluctance to pick his best side. Maicon starting ahead of Zabaleta in Madrid was a mistake, as was Kolarov coming off the bench before other more able attacking players. Kolarov is a player who will often mask a poor performance by producing a goal or an assist from a set-piece – exactly like in the last match. He was poor in possession and continually gave the ball away, yet steps up and puts us 2-1 in front, meaning people think he’s played well. I would make him available for sale in January and use him sparingly until then.
On Balotelli, Mancini had this to say:
I don’t have any problem with him. There has been no argument. Absolutely not. It is is totally false. what someone wrote yesterday. Mario went to the stand because we decided to play only with (Carlos) Tevez and I can’t put three strikers on the bench. Mario is a player like the other players. He can go on the bench or in the stand. Yes he is upset but this is normal.
I have no doubt that Balotelli has a role to play this season and that the press will continually look for stories of a rift if he isn’t selected. We’re getting used to it anyway after last season but it is still exasperating. Balo is expected to play a part against Arsenal, especially since it looks unlikely that Samir Nasri will be involved. He sustained a hamstring injury on Tuesday. However, Aguero is ready.
Samir I don’t think will be ready for Sunday. We will try but it is difficult. But Sergio [Aguero] is fit.
Mancini was keen to stress the difficulty of Sunday’s match:
I don’t think we have an easy game. After a european game you can have some problems with injuries. I don’t think it will be easy but it’s important we do a good performance. I think Arsenal can compete for the title this year. They have less pressure from last year because they have sold two or three important players like Robin van Persie and Alex Song. Maybe they can do better than last year for this reason. Plus all the players he bought are good players with experience.