Manchester (United Kingdom), By James McMath
Yaya Toure believes Manchester City can win all of their remaining Premier League fixtures and successfully defend their title.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team have slipped to seven points behind leaders Chelsea with 14 matches left to play, the first of which is against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday.
City have failed to win in their last five matches, a run that has coincided with Toure’s absence due to Africa Cup of Nations commitments with Ivory Coast.
Toure helped his country win the continental competition on Sunday with a penalty shootout victory over Ghana in the final and is due back in Britain this week.
However, Pellegrini has said it would be “impossible” for Toure or compatriot Wilfried Bony to feature against Stoke and that their return to the Premier League is likely to come against Newcastle United on February 21.
After triumphing with his country, Toure, 31, is ready to inspire his club to glory.
“With my confidence I know football is not about one game or two games, especially in the Premier League,” he said.
“We have 38 games and if we want to achieve it (winning the title) we have to win all the games.
“I know it is difficult but now I have to go back and do my duty again.”
After being held by Hull, Manchester City are unlikely to take the prospect of facing Stoke lightly, especially after Mark Hughes’ team enjoyed a surprising 1-0 victory when the teams met at the Etihad Stadium in August.
Jesus Navas says Pellegrini’s team can ill afford any similar slips.
“Stoke are a team who are very well organised and very disciplined,” said Navas.
“As we saw in the first game, if you are not focused and even momentarily lose concentration, they can hurt you – just as they did at the Etihad.
“We were disappointing that day but Stoke played very well and won a game they perhaps weren’t expected to win. They are playing very well at the moment and unless we have to be at our best from start to finish.
“We know from experience that playing at Stoke can be similar in many ways, especially if their fans are behind them throughout so we have to try and get on top early and perhaps quieten the home support.”
The Potters have lost just one of the last nine games in all competitions, while victory over Queens Park Rangers on January 31 extended an unbeaten record on home soil to four games.
“We’re looking forward to it and it’s important that we keep our impressive run going,” Hughes said.
“We are playing really well at the moment and I am pleased with the form we are showing so we need to keep it going.
“It won’t be easy, Manchester City are a little bit of a wounded animal at the moment and have got a little bit of criticism for their home form.
“We need to be ready for them, but we’re playing very well at the moment so bring it on.”
Stoke salvaged a point against Newcastle United on Sunday thanks to Peter Crouch’s late header.
It was the former England striker’s fifth Premier League goal of the season, during which he has been used sparingly by his manager.
Of the 34-year-old’s 22 league appearances, nine have come as a substitute.
“He’s understandably been a little disappointed of late because he hasn’t started games, but he came on and invariably made a massive impact for us,” Hughes said.
“That’s the type of player he is. He’s a solid professional whether he starts games or comes off the bench.
“Again that’s a credit to him because it shows he is fully engaged and readily prepared for every game he plays in.”