Football: Title memories can spark City, says Toure

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Yaya Toure insists the memory of Manchester City's dramatic fightback in last season's title race can spark another revival as the champions try to overhaul leaders Manchester United.

Roberto Mancini's side have the chance to cut United's lead at the top of the Premier League to six points when they head to Southampton on Saturday.

Mancini has often stated that if his team were within reach of Alex Ferguson's men when Toure returned from the African Cup of Nations, they would have a chance of retaining their title.

After frustrating draws against QPR and Liverpool, the trip to St Mary's will have a significant bearing on whether that is the possible.

Ivory Coast were knocked out of the tournament with a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Nigeria and Toure is set to return to Mancini's side for the first time in more than a month this weekend.

That trip comes the day before United host Everton in a fixture that played a major part in swinging the title race towards City last season when the Toffees came back from 4-2 down to snatch a draw at Old Trafford.

City went on to erase the eight-point deficit with six matches left and that gives Toure the belief United can be caught.

"We are further behind than we'd like, of course, but all we need to do is think about last season to know what is possible," Toure said.

"My friends are all here and are happy to see me and we are like a family or brothers who will all fight together and that is a very important thing to have.

"United have a strong squad and on paper, they have an easier run in than we do but the title race is a long way from finished.

"It only takes a couple of results to go our way and we're right back in it. I'm sure we'll come back.

"I feel like I'm home again and I met some City fans before my flight from Paris to Manchester and they said 'welcome home, Yaya' and they said they wanted me to help the team and bring happiness to our supporters. That's what I aim to do."

City captain Vincent Kompany has a calf problem and is doubtful for the clash with Mauricio Pochettino's side, while defender Micah Richards is still out with a knee problem.

Pochettino is still looking for his first victory as Southampton manager but performances during the Argentine's first three games in charge, draws with Everton and Wigan and a narrow defeat at Old Trafford, have strengthened hopes the club can remain outside the bottom three.

A positive result against the champions would add to that belief and Rickie Lambert, the club's leading scorer, claims the fixture offers his side a chance to demonstrate the progress made since their opening day 3-2 defeat against City.

The Saints led twice on that occasion and Lambert said: "We don't want it to be as open as that. You can't give the players they have that much space and time.

"It was a great game to watch up at their place, but it was not the result we wanted.

"You've got to be tight when they've got it and open when we have it which is what every team wants. That's the way we've been playing lately and it's been working, so hopefully we can implement it again on Saturday."

If Lambert scores, he will reach a century of goals for Southampton but he added: "I'm not trying to make any big deal out of it, I'm just going to try and score it as fast as I can.

"If it helps us to get a point or a win then that's the most important thing."

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