Man City motivated to beat Sunderland

STUART CONDIE AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Manchester City has plenty of additional motivation to beat Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.

Victory would put leader Manchester United under pressure, pay Sunderland back for what was only its second Premier League defeat of the season and give one player the pleasure of beating his hometown club.

Sunderland-born England winger Adam Johnson played the entire game at the Stadium of Light in January, so he was on the field to see Ji Dong-won score a last-minute winner in a match City had dominated.

"That defeat was hard to take because we played really well, dominated the match but the ball just wouldn't go in the net for us," Johnson said. "I don't think they had any shots of note during the game and then they nick it right at the death, so that's certainly in the back of our minds going into this game."

With defending champion United not in action until it plays Blackburn on Monday, City can draw level on points at the top of the table if it beats the Black Cats.

City slipped slightly further behind United last weekend with a 1-1 draw against Stoke but has won a Premier League-record 20 straight games at home and is a strong favorite to beat a side resurgent under manager Martin O'Neill.

"I'm sure they won't be looking forward to coming to our ground," said Johnson, who is close friends with Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole. "We've been fantastic on our own patch and we feel we can beat anyone, so we'll be looking to make it 21 Premier League wins in a row against them."

While Johnson is in contention to start, City striker Sergio Aguero is out with a foot injury. Manager Roberto Mancini would not say what the injury was and raised the prospect that it was self-inflicted or sustained in an accident by stating only that it was "stupid."

Aguero's absence could give Carlos Tevez the chance to start a match for the first time since Sept. 10. The Argentina striker has made three substitute appearances since returning from an unsanctioned six-month break.

United's game against Blackburn is the first of four in a row against teams in the bottom six of the Premier League and manager Alex Ferguson said it is crucial his team takes advantage to stay ahead of City until the teams meet on April 30.

"We have a small advantage: it's not a great advantage; it can be changed in one game," Ferguson said. "We just have to take each game as it comes along. It's the only thing we can do."

Chelsea is at Aston Villa in another match Saturday, when third-place Arsenal is at Queens Park Rangers.

Everton hosts West Bromwich Albion, Fulham hosts Norwich, Wigan hosts Stoke and Wolverhampton Wanderers hosts Bolton.

On Sunday, it's Tottenham vs. Swansea and Newcastle vs. Liverpool.