Milner upbeat as top-four fight resumes
James Milner insists the spirit in the Manchester City camp is strong as they bid to rein in defending champions Manchester United in the Premier League title race. Roberto Mancini's team visit Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon and could start the game eight points behind United again, if the Red Devils beat Everton at Old Trafford earlier in the day.
The City camp has not always appeared to be a harmonious one, with Carlos Tevez's refusal to warm up during a UEFA Champions League tie in September, Mario Balotelli's argument with Aleksandar Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick against Sunderland last month, and a training-ground bust-up between Balotelli and Micah Richards all examples of apparent problems. But Milner refutes the accusation that the team is not pulling in the same direction.
"Look at the season we have had and winning the FA Cup last year," he said. "That first trophy as a group was great, and you can look at games this year when we have been losing and shown character and fight.
"Even in the FA Cup game against United, we were a man down and losing heavily at half-time. But we came back and could easily have got a draw out of the game. I cannot see a team of individuals doing that. You need that spirit, determination and togetherness to get through the low points of the season, and we have done that.
"We are playing good football, had a great performance at the weekend, and all season we have fought in all competitions and will do that until the end."
Wolves are eight points adrift of safety with four games to go, and have taken just two points from nine games under Terry Connor. A bad season got even worse earlier this week with the news that first-choice goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey will be sidelined for six months with a cruciate ligament injury.
Champions League qualification fight continues
In Saturday's action, Arsenal host Chelsea in a lunchtime London derby which could be key in the race for Champions League qualification. The Gunners start the weekend in third, seven points better off than the sixth-placed Blues but having played a game more.
Newcastle United could go fourth - at least temporarily - if they beat Stoke City at St James' Park, with Tottenham Hotspur able to reclaim fourth if they at least match the Magpies' result when they make the short trip to Shepherd's Bush to take on Queens Park Rangers on Saturday evening.
QPR desperately need the points themselves, sitting just two points and one place above the bottom three.
Crucial points on offer in relegation battle
Bolton Wanderers are their closest challengers and have two games in hand on the Londoners. They face Swansea City at the Reebok Stadium aiming to end a two-match losing run against a team whose win over Blackburn Rovers last time out ended a run of four straight defeats.
Blackburn aim to recover from that defeat when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Road, while in-form Wigan Athletic take their fight against the drop to Fulham.
Martin O'Neill makes his first return to Aston Villa since leaving the club before the start of the 2010/11 season as manager of Sunderland, while on Sunday Liverpool are at home to West Bromwich Albion.