Fitness boost for Richards
Micah Richards is ready to return and ease Manchester City's full-back crisis for Sunday's Premier League encounter with Arsenal.
With Aleksandar Kolarov already ruled out for four weeks with a groin injury, the last thing manager Roberto Mancini wanted was to lose Gael Clichy as well. But the France international must serve a one-match suspension following his red card at Chelsea on Monday night.
However, Richards, who has been missing for a fortnight with a calf problem, should have recovered and Mancini said: "I think Micah will be OK for Sunday. Then we have Pablo (Zabaleta), who can play on the left."
Although City did not spend too long mulling over the disappointment of their first Premier League defeat of the season as they headed into central London for their annual Christmas party, Mancini was still frustrated at the way a game that seemed to be his side's for the taking slipped through their grasp.
It means the Blues may have been overtaken in top spot by Manchester United when their match against Arsenal begins, exerting more pressure than they have been under since that phenomenal triumph at Old Trafford in October. Not that Mancini seems overly perturbed at the prospect.
"After 15 games we are on the top, with two more points than United," he said.
"The season is long. We have said that before. We are strong enough to start winning again and one result doesn't change anything. We know if we want to win, we should continue to play well, like we did at Chelsea."
City are the only member of the elite 'top six' who are still to face one of their rivals on home soil. That changes this weekend against an Arsenal side that has won seven out of their last eight Premier League fixtures after a dismal start to the season.
"We don't have a problem bouncing back," said Mancini. "I am sure we will.
"We play Arsenal on Sunday. At this moment, Arsenal are playing very well. It will be difficult but we need to start again."