Manchester City v West Brom: Champions seek response after back-to-back defeats
Manchester City welcome West Brom to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, desperately seeking a win to keep them in touch in the Premier League title race.
City's hopes of retaining the title suffered another setback when George Boyd's goal saw them go down to a shock 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Burnley last weekend.
There was more misery for the champions on Wednesday, as they lost by the same scoreline to much more vaunted opposition, Ivan Rakitic scoring the only goal of the game for Barcelona as City were dumped out of the UEFA Champions League at the last-16 stage.
City now return to league action and, with a six-point gap to make up to leaders Chelsea, they can ill-afford any more slip-ups.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was magnanimous in defeat to Barca, and goalkeeper Joe Hart - who produced an outstanding display at Camp Nou - was grateful for the backing of the City faithful who made the trip to Spain.
"It's West Brom next, and a big shout to the fans who came here again up in the clouds," Hart said.
"We really appreciate them coming and we know we're going to turn up on Saturday afternoon and will be ready to go again."
With City faltering, they may have wished for an easier test than facing a West Brom side rejuvenated under Tony Pulis.
Since the Welshman was appointed on New Year's Day, West Brom have lost just two of 10 league matches and are up to 13th in the table, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Pulis has greatly improved their defensive record, with eight goals conceded in those 10 games - as many as in the three outings immediately preceding his arrival.
Despite their relative position of comfort, defender Gareth McAuley says no one at the club is taking survival for granted.
"We've got a lot to play for with these nine games left," he told the club's official website.
"There are a few teams that are a few points behind us but if you start looking at things like that you will soon find yourself slipping away.
"The gaffer is not having any of that I can assure you. The message from him is to finish as strongly as we possibly can and that's all we are thinking about.
"May is a bit of a lottery for us. We've got a really difficult group of matches in our last four or five games so the last thing we can afford to be is complacent."
City have a clean bill of health, while West Brom will have to contend without a number of absentees.
Midfielders Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob are both suspended, while goalkeeper Ben Foster (knee) is also out. Callum McManaman (foot) and Victory Anichebe (groin) are rated as doubtful, while Brown Ideye picked up a knock late on in the 1-0 victory over Stoke City last time out.