Dzeko ready to take over from injured Aguero
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