Mancini impressed by West Brom
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes this weekend's opponents West Brom have been playing the best football in the country.
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Mancini hopes his players quickly recover from their international exertions of the past fortnight to get ready for what he expects to be a challenging trip to The Hawthorns.
The Baggies have made a solid start in the Barclays Premier League under new boss Steve Clarke and are just a point behind Mancini's third-placed champions.
Mancini said: "I should say many compliments to him (Clarke) because he has done a very good job until now.
"In this moment, I think West Bromwich is the team that has played the best football, so tomorrow for us it will be a tough game.
"It is always difficult, this game after the international break. Today is the first date we can work together.
"We need to think and we need to put everything we have into tomorrow's game because it will be very difficult. After that we think about the other games."
City are unbeaten but yet to hit their stride this season, although they suggested better was to come with an emphatic 3-0 defeat of Sunderland in their last game a fortnight ago.
Mancini anticipates an entertaining contest with both sides keen to express themselves.
The Italian said: "It is very important when there are two teams that play very good football, I think it is important for the supporters, for everyone."
The international break has taken a toll on City with midfielders David Silva and Jack Rodwell suffering hamstring injuries representing Spain and England Under-21s respectively.
The problem for Silva, at least, may not be as bad as feared.
The 26-year-old pulled up after just 10 minutes of Spain's World Cup qualifying draw with France on Tuesday and it was reported he could face a lengthy lay-off.
But although he will also miss Wednesday's crucial Champions League encounter with Ajax, there is a possibility he could be back in action next weekend.
Mancini said: "He is not ready for tomorrow, and will not be for the Champions League, but we hope for the next game against Swansea."
There might also have been concerns about the condition of England players Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner, who returned later than scheduled after their World Cup qualifier in Poland was put back a day.
But despite the disruption to his preparations, Mancini at least has no worries about their fitness.
The Italian said: "The English players who played on Wednesday are tired but I am not worried, they have another day to recover."
Mancini also has no fears about Hart's state of mind ahead of his return to domestic action.
Hart was at fault as Poland claimed their equaliser in the 1-1 draw against England in Warsaw on Wednesday. That came just a fortnight after Hart was widely hailed as the best goalkeeper in the world after a stunning display against Borussia Dortmund.
Mancini said: "I think this is a situation that happens when you can play but usually Joe saves everything."
There have been rumours in recent days suggesting midfield talisman Yaya Toure might want to leave the Etihad Stadium for a new challenge but Mancini was dismissive.
Mancini, speaking at his press conference to preview the West Brom game, said he believes the 29-year-old can continue to get the challenge he wants with City.
Mancini said: "Every day we have a new challenge here. In two-and-a-half years we won the FA Cup, the Premier League, the Community Shield.
"Now we need to win other cups and other Premier Leagues. We need to work more for this challenge. I think Yaya thinks like me and the other players.
"I am happy Yaya wants a new challenge, I also want a new challenge. I want to win the next game, then the next game in the Champions League. We want to do everything together."
Mancini also joked about the matter when asked about the challenge West Brom might pose.
He said: "This is another big challenge for Yaya."
Mancini has certainly welcomed suggestions Toure might want to sit out next year's African Nations Cup.
Toure's absence during last season's tournament in January and February coincided with the champions' worst spell of the campaign.
Mancini said: "I didn't speak with Yaya about this. Hopefully we will speak in the next week. I hope he stays here but I don't know."