Manchester City begins the process of converting games in hand into points today at Etihad Stadium, with the team hoping a visit from last place Sunderland will begin its climb back into the title race. Available via NBC Sports Live Extra, the match gives the Citizens a chance to cut the gap between itself and first place Liverpool to four points, with one of the team’s two matches in hand going away today in Manchester.
Both teams come into today’s game having suffered weekend losses at the hands of Merseyside clubs. City, visiting Anfield, saw a late Philippe Coutinho goal send it to a 3-2 loss, while Sunderland fell at home to Everton, 1-0.
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The loss keeps the Black Cats mired at the bottom of the Premier League table, with 25 points in 32 games leaving a seven-point gap between the club and safety. As important: Sunderland will have to out-play three teams between now and the end of the season, something that will require Gus Poyet’s side to take advantage of its own matches in hand.
City, while having the best goal difference in the league, sit third, though a late April meeting between the league’s two top teams gives the 2011-12 title-winners reason to hope. With two wins in their games in hand, the Citizens will be in position to take advantage of a potential Liverpool slip against Chelsea a week-and-a-half from now.
The first step in the Sky Blues’ charge will be prolonging Sunderland’s agony at the Etihad, where the Black Cats have never won. With neither Yaya Touré nor David Silva in the team, however, Sunderland may be able to get a shock result.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Dimechelis, Kolarov, Milner, Garcia, Fernandinho, Nasri, Aguero, Negredo
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Rodwell, Dzeko, Jovetic
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Johnson, Morini, Wickham
Subs: Altidore, Ba, Giaccherini, Scocco, Mavrias, Agnew, Ustari