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Mancini challenges City to bounce back vs. Arsenal

Manchester City's season has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start by its lofty expectations.

The Citizens have taken eight points from their first four Premier League games, narrowly avoiding defeat at Liverpool thanks to a gift from Martin Skrtel while grabbing an equalizer from Javi Garcia to salvage a point in a draw at Stoke City.

City looked to be on the right track Tuesday when it twice held a one-goal lead over Real Madrid in its Champions League match at the Bernabeu, but late goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo sealed three points for the Spanish champions and piled more pressure on the English champions.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was not overly upset about the defeat, but he alluded that his side must show more courage in the future, starting with the club's home match with Arsenal on Sunday.

"It is difficult not because we lost - we can lose against a side like Real Madrid - but because with four minutes to go it was 2-1," the City manager said. "In the first half they played better than us but in the second half we played well and scored two goals.

"When you score two goals here and are 2-1 you should pay more attention. I saw the [Ronaldo] goal ... the mistake was we went too deep, only this. We should have had more courage at this time."

Arsenal, meanwhile, enjoyed the opposite on its travels to Montpellier. The Gunners fell behind early but grabbed two goals in as many minutes to claim a 2-1 win on the night.

Arsene Wenger's side is level with City in Premier League play on eight points apiece, but the Gunners have managed to string together a two-game winning streak with defeats of Liverpool and Southampton by a combined score of 8-1.

With both clubs starting the season with a pair of wins and draws, three points on Sunday certainly would give either side a great bit of confidence going forward.

If Arsenal's contest at the Etihad is the main course on Sunday, then the appetizer is certainly Manchester United's trip to Anfield to face heated rival Liverpool.

United occupies second place on nine points, earning a memorable last-gasp victory at Southampton last time out. Liverpool has struggled early on, managing just two points to sit just one spot clear of the relegation zone.

Pressure is mounting on new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, but a win in a vital local derby would be enough to silence his critics, if at least for one more week.

Also on Sunday, Newcastle hosts Norwich City and QPR squares off in a London derby for the second week running as it heads to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.

Chelsea saw its perfect record spoiled last time out as it played to a scoreless draw with QPR. The Blues will look to embark on a new winning streak on Saturday when it hosts Stoke City, a club that has drawn all four of its league matches thus far.

Sunderland also has drawn all of its matches so far, taking three points from its opening three games. The Black Cats will try to double their points total when it heads to Upton Park to face West Ham, which is riding high with seven points from its first four matches back in the top flight.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Swansea City hosts Everton at the Liberty Stadium, Southampton welcomes Aston Villa to St. Mary's, West Bromwich and Reading square off at the Hawthorns, and Fulham heads to the DW Stadium to take on Wigan.