Dzeko ready to take over from in­jured Aguero

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

EDIN DZEKO is con­fi­dent he can fire Manch­ester City’s chal­lenge for the English Pre­mier League ti­tle in the ab­sence of in­jured star Ser­gio Aguero.

Aguero, who has al­ready scored 19 times this sea­son, suf­fered a calf in­jury in City’s 6-3 win over Arse­nal last weekend and is likely to be side­lined for up to eight weeks.

Dzeko has been rarely used this sea­son by City man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini, de­spite prom­ises he would have a more im­por­tant role than un­der pre­vi­ous boss Roberto Mancini.

But the Bos­nian in­ter­na­tional, who scored twice in City’s 3-1 win over Le­ices­ter in the League Cup this week, is now hop­ing he is given a chance to shine up front along­side Al­varo Ne­gredo.

“Ser­gio has had an amaz­ing sea­son, scor­ing a lot of goals, and he is an im­por­tant player for us,” Dzeko said of the in­jured Ar­gen­tine for­ward.

“That’s life and now we have to try to play games with­out him and try to win.

“I am happy to score two against Le­ices­ter – that’s my job. I hope it means I am back among the goals. I am a striker that has scored goals all my life, and I love to do it.”

Vic­tory away over Ful­ham to­day would leave Man City level with lead­ers Arse­nal, who don’t play un­til Mon­day’s show­down with Chelsea, and mid­fielder James Mil­ner be­lieves the Christ­mas pe­riod will be a cru­cial time for their ti­tle chances.

“It’s a crit­i­cal time when you’ve got games so close in suc­ces­sion. It’s im­por­tant that we per­form and use our squad,” said Mil­ner ahead of a pro­gramme which in­cludes fixtures against Liver­pool and Crys­tal Palace at home.

“The league ta­ble al­ways looks very dif­fer­ent go­ing into Christ­mas than it does com­ing out. It is an im­por­tant time and hope­fully we can keep the pres­sure on our ri­vals.”

Ful­ham de­fender John Arne Ri­ise is con­fi­dent the west Lon­don side can up­set City, al­though the for­mer Liver­pool star con­cedes forth­com­ing games against fel­low strug­glers will have more of a bear­ing on whether the Cot­tagers can avoid rel­e­ga­tion.

Rene Meu­len­steen’s side, cur­rently sec­ond-bot­tom on the ta­ble, play Nor­wich, Hull and West Ham United af­ter the City game.

“It’s not a game peo­ple will ex­pect us to win but we’re pre­pared to go out to try and get the vic­tory,” Ri­ise said.

Meu­len­steen has in­her­ited a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle from sacked pre­de­ces­sor Martin Jol and Ful­ham were beaten 4- 1 at Ever­ton in their last out­ing.

But Ri­ise ar­gued that the three games played un­der the new boss so far had been en­cour­ag­ing none­the­less.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing but in the last three games we’ve shown what we can do,” he said. – Sapa-AFP

EDIN DZEKO

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