Joe Hart Calls for Manchester City to Build on Euro Escape
Manuel Pellegrini's side boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages by coming from a goal down to win at Monchengladbach in midweek.
Joe Hart has challenged his Manchester City team-mates to use their midweek fightback against Borussia Monchengladbach as the springboard for a strong run in the Premier League.
Manuel Pellegrini's side boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages by coming from a goal down to win at Monchengladbach in midweek.(Pellegrini Hopes for More Aguero Goals)
But City have little time to rest on their laurels as they return to domestic action against struggling Newcastle at Eastlands on Saturday.
The return of Hart in goal after a two-match absence proved crucial to the win in Germany.
Argentinian Willy Caballero performed poorly when City capitulated in a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend that cost them top spot to Manchester United.
Hart, by contrast, was superb against Monchengladbach, making a series of crucial saves, including one to keep out a first-half penalty from Brazilian midfielder Raffael.
Now the England international wants his team to build on the momentum from that much-needed success as they try to avoid a third successive league defeat.
"We need to get back to the first five games of the Premier League season, where we were more of a balanced team," Hart said.
"We've been a bit imbalanced. But the season is a long season, so you have got different stages. We hope that will put us in a good place for the Newcastle game."
City were left rather short-handed in midfield in the first half against Monchengladbach, with Pellegrini deciding to field an attacking quartet of Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne together in a starting line-up for the first time.
Yaya Toure, a surprise inclusion in central midfield after a quicker-than-expected recovery from a hamstring injury, struggled to cope and was withdrawn at half-time for the more effective Fernando.
There is no doubt that City's impressive start to the season was helped by a solid central defensive partnership between Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala.
But Mangala has missed City's last three matches with a muscle problem, while Kompany has not played since suffering a calf injury in the Champions League against Juventus on September 15.
Neither of their replacements, Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demichelis, are blessed with pace, and both are vulnerable to teams who are quick on the counter attack.
However, Otamendi did demonstrate an attacking threat by scoring City's equaliser in Germany, and there is a sense that Pellegrini's side still have goals in them despite their recent stutters.
Second-bottom of the table, Newcastle remain without a league win after seven games this season, but Aleksandar Mitrovic insists last week's 2-2 draw at home to champions Chelsea gives a clearer indication of the quality at the disposal of head coach Steve McClaren.
"Against Chelsea, we showed we can play well against the big teams," said Mitrovic, the Serbia striker who has yet to score in six appearances since signing Anderlecht.
"That kind of performance is how we should be playing every week, and I think we're capable of playing like that on a regular basis."
Newcastle have lost on their last seven league visits to City, with their last win in this fixture coming in 2000.
They have injury doubts over several players, with Jack Colback, Paul Dummett, Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse all facing fitness tests as they bid to secure a first league win over City since September 2005.
They are the only side in the top five divisions of English football to have not scored an away goal so far this season, but Mitrovic, 21, said: "We've got to go to Manchester City and show we don't fear anybody. They are a team we can beat, like any team in the Premier League."