Mancini: Make-or-break for City
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes the month of December could indicate whether his team has a realistic chance of the title.
While the Italian remains adamant Chelsea will retain their crown he is anxious to take it to the wire. City will play seven matches in December - five in the league - and 10 games in different competitions in the next six weeks. First up on Wednesday are Salzburg, with a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League in sight.
Mancini said: "This month will be very important for us as we have some difficult games against strong teams. During this spell we can understand what we must do for the future. It will be very tough because we play every three days."
He added: "But first we must try to beat Salzburg and go through to the next stage. Then we play just two games in February. That will give us time to concentrate on the league and that could be an important month too."
Mancini intends to tinker with his side after the 1-1 draw against Stoke at the weekend as he looks to complete the double over Salzburg.
Whether he will hand a start to fit-again Wayne Bridge remains to be seen after speaking of his frustration at the full-back's inability to stay free of injury.
Mancini said: "He is available to play. The problem he has is he is always injured. Every game he plays he cannot finish. It is usually a hamstring or a groin problem.
"He played in Salzburg but after 70 minutes he was injured. He played against Blackpool and was injured. He played against Poznan and was injured. It is impossible for him to play because of this. Every time he was available he played. This week he is available. He is an important part of our group and he has been unlucky.
"We will change some players for Wednesday as we are playing two games in a few days but it will still be a good team."
Pablo Zabaleta is available again after suspension while Yaya Toure could also come into contention after missing the Stoke game with a migraine. Emmanuel Adebayor is expected to recover in time from a groin problem.