Hart: Manchester City are ready for title showdown

Mancini's side are three points behind United but can go top on goal difference with a win in next Monday's derby, with the manager welcoming the return of Mario Balotelli
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has stated that his side are ready for next Monday’s title showdown against Manchester United after Sunday’s results saw their rivals' lead cut to just three points.

United’s 4-4 draw at home to Everton coupled with City’s 2-0 victory over Wolves means Roberto Mancini’s side will go top of the table on goal difference should they defeat the Red Devils at the Etihad Stadium.

In keeping with his manager’s low-key approach to the team’s title pursuit, Hart played down the significance of United’s failure to win ahead of Monday’s momentous encounter.

"Our title chances are certainly a lot better than they were at the start of the day," he told The Mirror.

"The lads played brilliantly, we took our goals well and it was nice to have another clean sheet. There are only three games left now.

"We have been putting this one off for a long time. People have been talking about it but now it is the next game in our sights so it is the one we are going to talk about.

"We feel ready. We are firing goals in. We feel good. We are looking forward to it."

Joleon Lescott, however, acknowledged that his former club Everton had given his side a boost after they took points off United.

"It was massive," Lescott stated. "But we still had to come here and try to win regardless of the result at Old Trafford. It was nice that Everton picked up some points there but we had to concentrate on our game.

"We knew they had everything to play for and would give 100 per cent. We were clinical up top and deserved the win."

Mario Balotelli will be available for next week's derby after after serving a three-match suspension, on which Mancini commented: "I’ll be happy to have him available. One player more for next week.

"Mario scored two goals against United at Old Trafford. He’s a very important player for this game."