THE Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini appeared to rule Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal out of title contention by identifying his club's return Premier League match against Manchester United on 28 April as the fixture to decide which side are crowned champions.
"If we are strong enough, I think it will be decided with the game at home, probably," said Mancini, who is resigned to losing top spot on Saturday - United face Blackburn and his own side do not play for another 24 hours. The Etihad Stadium derby is the third game from the end of the Premier League season - Newcastle away and QPR at home following for City; United have Swansea at home and Sunderland away.
City will have Micah Richards and Aleksandar Kolarov back from injury in time for their New Year's Day trip to Sunderland, which kicks off a run of 11 games in 35 days. Richards suffered a calf strain in the win over Stoke, and Kolarov has been out for over a month with a groin problem. Owen Hargreaves is also understood to be ready to come into consideration for Mancini, with Yaya Toure's departure for the African Cup of Nations only 10 days away.