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Champions League Group E

Milner seeks Etihad perfection

James Milner believes Manchester City's home record must remain unblemished if they are to challenge for the Premier League title.

Last Updated: 09/12/13 at 12:40 Post Comment

James Milner: An Etihad rallying cry for Manchester City

James Milner: An Etihad rallying cry for Manchester City

The midfielder has challenged his Blues team-mates to become the first team to secure a perfect home record in 122 years, to compensate for their slovenly away form.

City dropped further points on the road on Saturday when Dani Osvaldo's excellent curling strike drew Southampton level after Sergio Aguero's opener.

A draw on the south coast means the visit of Arsenal on Saturday becomes all the more important and Milner has called on City to go one better than 2011/12 when they won 18 home games.

"With the disappointing results we have had away from home, it's important that we try to go through the season winning every single home game," Milner told the Manchester Evening News.

"That won't be easy, but the way we are playing we can do that, then if we can keep picking up points away from home."

Sunderland remain the only top-flight team to have won all their home games in 1891/92 and it was ironically the Black Cats who thwarted City two seasons ago by producing a 3-3 draw at the Etihad Stadium.

While City have been imperious at home so far this term, with 29 goals and only two conceded, league leaders Arsenal will pose a significant threat this weekend.

City hold an advantage in that they have already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League, making their fixture against Bayern Munich an effective dead rubber, but Arsenal must avoid a three-goal defeat in Napoli to progress.

Experienced

Despite already having qualified, Milner insists the focus is first on Bayern, saying: "Arsenal is a big game but we have to concentrate on Bayern first.

"Arsenal will be very tough - they are top of the league and will have a bit of a go, so it's important we win that game and carry on playing the way we have at home.

"If we play like we have been recently at home, we shouldn't have a problem. But it will be a tough game - they are top and the league doesn't lie.

"They are a good team with a very experienced manager. They will keep going, so it's down to us to catch them and concentrate on our own form.

"It will be one game of theirs which we can control, and take points off them, so we have to make sure we do that."

Although Manuel Pellegrini has already insisted the Premier League tie take precedence and is expected to make a raft of changes, Milner maintains from a player's focus the European encounter remains crucial.

"You are playing for Manchester City in a Champions League game, so whether it's a dead rubber game or not, you go out and try to play as well as you can," he said.

"Any time you play in that competition, you want to go out and play well. We have nothing to lose as we have already qualified, so you can go out and play with freedom, and see what happens.

"It's a massive game against one of the best teams in the world, so you don't need much motivating for a game like that."

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