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Cardiff City-Manchester City Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO

STATS Writer

(AP) -- Manchester City were stunned by Cardiff City earlier this season.

A repeat performance seems incredibly unlikely.

The Blues may have a chance to move atop the Premier League as they try to continue their goal glut Saturday and avenge their defeat to the Bluebirds.

Manchester City (15-2-4) opened the Premier League season with a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle on Aug. 19, seemingly backing up the belief that they would be serious championship contenders under Manuel Pellegrini.

The expected strong start, however, never materialized as the Citizens followed that performance with a 3-2 loss at Cardiff in one of the biggest upsets of the season.

A similar result - or even a draw - at the Etihad may even upstage that performance by relegation-threatened Cardiff City.

Manchester City lead the league with 59 goals, eight more than Liverpool in second. They've been nothing short of marauders at home, winning 11 matches on the trot in all competitions while outscoring opponents 48-9.

That staggering production has shown few signs of waning of late. City have a 12-0 scoring advantage in three straight home games, hammering Blackburn Rovers 5-0 in the FA Cup on Wednesday, three days after beating Newcastle 2-0 away.

Beating Cardiff (4-6-11) could put Manchester City top of the league since they trail Arsenal by one point. The Gunners host Fulham at the same time Saturday.

Still, Pellegrini is looking to continue the scoring barrage.

"It's an important amount of goals. When I arrived here I knew it was important to win a trophy but I think the way this team plays is equally important," he told the team's official website. "I know it's more easy to sit back and counter attack for two thirds of the game, but it's not my philosophy and I don't think that it's the philosophy the club wants.

"We want to always be an attractive team."

Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko are surely helping.

Negredo has seven goals in four matches after scoring on his only two shots against Blackburn. Of his 21 goals in all competitions, he's netted 17 of them at home - five in the past two matches.

Dzeko has five goals in three matches overall and at home. Like Negredo, the Bosnia international had a brace of his own Wednesday.

City's scoring fortunes may have only increased with Sergio Aguero's return from a calf injury. He had a goal Wednesday after missing eight matches.

"Alvaro and Dzeko are in a very good moment and it's also important that Sergio came back and scored in this game," Pellegrini said.

Cardiff City haven't won in five straight league matches (0-1-4). They've been outscored 12-3 during that stretch, which saw manager Malky Mackay sacked in favour of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Bluebirds won Solskjaer's debut on the touchline Jan. 4, beating Newcastle 2-1 in the FA Cup. However, they followed that by losing 2-0 to fellow relegation battlers West Ham, despite holding a 19-10 shooting advantage and dominating possession.

"Statistically we had far more of the game in terms of possession and shots, but sometimes you don't quite get what you deserve," Solskjaer told the team's official website. "Possession and shots also don't count for much when you don't score."

Goals have been tough to come by, as Cardiff's 15 in league play rank only better than Crystal Palace's 13.

Frazier Campbell is tied with Jordon Mutch on four goals to lead Cardiff City in the Premier League. The forward has scored two of them in the past four games, but was limited to just one shot on target against the Hammers.

Updated January 17, 2014

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