• Premier League

De Jong: Man City are picking up bad habits

ESPN staff
August 27, 2012
Manchester City conceded twice at Anfield © PA Photos

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong knows the champions must stop falling behind in matches if they are to retain their Premier League crown.

City have been in losing positions in each of their last four matches, their 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday the latest example of that. This unwanted run began with the club's dramatic last-day win over QPR, and has continued this season against Chelsea, Southampton and now Liverpool.

Roberto Mancini's side spent long spells being outplayed at Anfield, but managed to snatch a draw as Carlos Tevez equalised late on following a mistake from Martin Skrtel.

"I don't know what it is. It is a bad habit. We picked that up from the last game of the season against QPR and have continued that in these first two games of the new season," De Jong told City TV.

"We have to improve and show that we are up for the test wherever we go, away or at home. It is not going to be an easy season. Wherever you go everyone wants to beat the champions. We have to stand tall with each other and improve.''

De Jong is now in the final year of his contract and his future has been the subject of speculation, but Mancini said last week he expects the player to stay at the Etihad Stadium, and the Dutchman now looks set to fight for his place in the side.

"We played some decent football at times, not all the game but at least we tried a lot of times," De Jong claimed. "It was a pity we let the goals in but on the other side we showed the determination to come back twice and get away with a point."

Mancini is yet to taste victory at Anfield, with his team struggling to reach their high standards from last season on Sunday.

"Liverpool are a different side when they play away than at home. They have still got (things) to prove but that is not my concern at the moment. My concern is we have to focus on our own squad and get those small things out to improve.''

Liverpool took the lead on two occasions thanks to goal from Skrtel and Luis Suarez, but were pegged back, first by Yaya Toure and then Tevez. De Jong was particularly impressed by Tevez, who has returned to City reinvigorated following his well-documented long-term absence last season.

"He looks quite slim," De Jong said. "He always had a little belly but that is gone now at the moment! All credit to him. Don't get me wrong, it is always hard to get him off the ball, but I'd rather have a slim Tevez than one with a belly. As long as he scores goals for me it is okay.

"He is on fire at the moment and a Tevez on fire is good for any team wherever he is. I am just glad he is still part of this City team and if he continues like this he will score a lot of goals this season.''

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