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City need to tighten up - Richards

29 Nov 2013 08:01:55

City need to tighten up - Richards

Micah Richards is keen for Manchester City to get back to showing the kind of defensive solidity they have displayed over the last few years.

City have been rampant in attack of late, scoring a total of 22 goals in their last four home games in all competitions.

But Blues boss Manuel Pellegrini criticised his side's defending after they laboured to a 4-2 Champions League win over Group D basement boys Viktoria Plzen at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

It is an area in which City - who have been without injured defender and captain Vincent Kompany for several weeks - have excelled in recent seasons.

In each of the last three Barclays Premier League campaigns, no other side have conceded fewer top-flight goals than them.

Richards is well aware of that fact and the City defender said: "We are playing some great stuff - at the weekend against Tottenham (a 6-0 top-flight home win on Sunday) we were outstanding.

"But we have just got to sort out the goals against now.

"We want more clean sheets. In the last three years we have had the best defence.

"We have been a bit shaky this season but hopefully we can put that right now."

Getting things right at the back as well as going forward is exactly what City, who qualified for the Champions League knockout stages before the clash with Czech outfit Plzen, will have to do if they are to finish top of their group.

It is a tall-looking order to say the least - in their final Group D game against leaders Bayern Munich away they will have to better the 3-1 win the German side achieved against them at the Etihad Stadium.

And on that December 10 contest, Richards said: "The match against Bayern is going to be a tough game. They are a strong team.

"If we win we could top the group but it is going to be very hard to go to their place and win.

"They have got special players there and, in my opinion, they are the best team in the world.

"I think we have got to be careful in defence but we have got to go and attack because we have got to win. It will be a good game."

Next up for City, who are fourth in the Premier League, is a top-flight encounter with Swansea at home on Sunday.

Pellegrini would not say on Wednesday whether goalkeeper Joe Hart will be retained in the side for that fixture or if Costel Pantilimon will come back in.

Hart was restored to the team for the Plzen game after a spell on the bench following a series of errors.

The England stopper made some good saves and, importantly, no mistakes on his return, with there being no blame on his part for the goals conceded.

It also remains to be seen whether or not Richards keeps his place in the first XI from the Plzen match.

On his battle with Pablo Zabaleta for the starting right-back berth at City, the 25-year-old England international said: "Zaba is playing well but you have to keep going, keep knuckling down, work hard.

"Then when I get a chance I'll take it. There is nothing more I can say really."


PA

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