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September 18, 2009

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City faces striker crisis ahead of derby clash

DESITE all its big spending, Manchester City appears certain to be without four top strikers when it takes on defending Premier League champion Manchester United in a local derby on Sunday.

Emmanuel Adebayor will miss the game at Old Trafford because of suspension, Robinho and Roque Santa Cruz are injured and Carlos Tevez is also unlikely to face his former club because of a knee problem he picked up playing for Argentina.

Adebayor was handed a three-match ban after accepting a charge of violent and improper conduct against former Arsenal teammate Robin van Persie during last weekend's Premier League match.

Adebayor "reluctantly accepted" the Football Association charge, City said.

Van Persie sustained a cut on his face and claimed Adebayor had acted in a "malicious" manner during City's 4-2 home victory on Saturday.

Adebayor has also been charged over his goal celebration when he ran the length of the field toward Arsenal fans, who reacted violently and had to be kept under control by police and stewards.

Third-place City, with four wins from four games, hopes to underline its title claims by beating a team which has won the Premier League three seasons in a row and 11 times in 17 seasons. If City pulls off a victory under these circumstances, then the club can demonstrate it has the talent on the field to win the league title for the first time since 1968.

The absence of the four strikers is expected to leave City with the talented but erratic Craig Bellamy and the unpredictable Benjani Mwaruwari upfront. United can call upon a wealth of attacking talent that includes Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen.

United is also buoyed by an impressive come-from-behind 3-1 victory at Tottenham last week to rise to second in the standings behind Chelsea. The Red Devils also had a routine 1-0 Champions League win at Besiktas on Tuesday.

Rooney will be eager to make a mark against City after showing his anger when he was substituted against Besiktas, having a row with the home team's fans and then taking off a boot and slamming it onto the ground.

United manager Alex Ferguson put that down to Rooney's winning mentality, saying his only concern for Sunday's game was the fitness of Rio Ferdinand.

"We'll have to wait and see," Ferguson said. "He felt his groin in training (after the victory at Tottenham), and we felt it wasn't worth the risk. He couldn't make the bench. We just have to give him every chance for Sunday."


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