Manchester City will make the short trip to Wigan on Sunday for a match that is exactly the kind they must win if they are to maintain serious Champions League ambitions, according to Yaya Toure.
Toure, who joined City from Barcelona in the summer, is adapting well to the physical nature of the Premier League and has so far justified the £24m it cost Roberto Mancini to sign him from the La Liga outfit. After beating Red Bull Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, City's confidence will be riding high again following a recent blip.
They lost to Sunderland in the Premier League a fortnight ago and followed that up with an abject display in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers last weekend. After spending over £100m this summer, such results, against sides City are expected to beat, do nothing but heap more pressure on Mancini and his team from both fans and the boardroom.
Toure is not immune from those pressures and knows that a strong performance and three points against Roberto Martinez's side would help keep City in the hunt for a top-four finish and maybe even more. "We know it is going to be a very tough game," said the midfielder. "Wigan are a team just like Sunderland and Blackburn, they will work hard, it will not be easy for us but the three points are very important.
"Wigan are going to be very confident after beating Tottenham. It is not easy playing a league game straight after a European match, but these are the games we need to win. Manchester City need to finish third or fourth in the table - that is the target. We have to qualify for the Champions League."
Although he has only played four Premier League games, the 27-year-old Toure already feels at home in England.
"I think I am suited to the Premier League," he added. "It is not so easy but I have a lot of respect for Chelsea and Manchester United. Manchester City are just starting with a lot of new players and a lot of big players. If we work hard I am totally sure Manchester City can have a good year and join these clubs."
The gulf in financial strength and footballing talent between the two clubs involved in action on Sunday is vast, yet Martinez is unruffled by City's threat. Martinez, who has steered his side to a fine win at Tottenham Hotspur and a good draw at Sunderland in recent weeks, believes City will eventually become a force to be reckoned with but he is hoping that their time is not quite here yet.
"You are always looking at what you are doing rather than the opposition but you look at Manchester City, and you feel it's only a matter of time before they are competing to win the Premier League," he said. "You just hope that we are playing them at a time when we can disrupt them and not allow them to be themselves."
"They have assembled probably the best squad of 20 footballers anywhere in the world, and that's obviously a fantastic position to be in. It's only a matter of time before they click, and they are going to be challenging for the title very soon - there's no two ways about that. But you can buy as many players as you like, you'll never buy a complete team. The hardest part of the challenge facing the management at City is to get a team out of a lot of skilled individuals."
Victor Moses should have recovered from a foot injury to play for Wigan although the encounter is probably too early for Gary Caldwell as he continues to recover from hip surgery. As for City, Joleon Lescott has a groin strain and will be unavailable, Emmanuel Adebayor has a dead leg, Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng will be absent with knee injuries while Aleksandr Kolarov is also missing with an ankle problem.