West Bromwich, United Kingdom: Manchester City defender Gael Clichy admitted he is confident the club can sustain a Premier League title challenge provided they address their troublesome away form.
City travel to West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday with the worst record on the road of any of the top nine teams in the table.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won just once — a 3-1 victory at West Ham United in October — this season in their six league games away from the Etihad Stadium, with four defeats and one draw.
Despite their travel sickness, City are up to third in the table thanks to an imperious home record and are now just six points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
However, left-back Clichy, 28, accepted City must drastically improve on a return of four points from games outside of Manchester, starting with their match at The Hawthorns.
“We need to go away from home and make sure we start to pick up points,” Clichy said. “You have to look at the positive side — even if we lost against Cardiff, Aston Villa and Sunderland away, we still managed to play better than the opposition.
“Maybe we need to be more focused in the last pass, the last moment, in the box, and score the first goal. When you score the first goal, the game is different.
“But this is a new team with a new manager and new players, and we are only going to get better. We are confident it will get better, hopefully starting at West Brom.
“We know what we have to do, to do our own thing and try not to lose points at home. Taking game after game will be a key point for us and hopefully we can now improve our away record.
“I don’t see why we won’t be there or thereabouts at the end of the season,” Clichy added.
City have been boosted recently by the performances of attacking midfielder Samir Nasri, who scored twice in their 3-0 win over Swansea at the weekend.
And Clichy claimed his France international colleague has benefitted from being given a run in the starting line-up by manager Pellegrini due to injuries to other players.
“I have known Samir for a few years now and I am not surprised that he is doing well — not just against Swansea but from the start of the season,” he said.
“Samir has always had this quality and the fact that he has been playing for a few months shows through his form. When he is like this he is hard to play against, but great to play with.”
West Brom know December, which starts with home games with City and Norwich City, is an important month and will go some way to determining whether they can beat last season’s record Premier League finish of eighth.
“Going into Christmas and the new year we know it’s a very important part of the season for every club in the Premier League,” said defender Billy Jones.
“We know we’re in a good position squad-wise. The gaffer can make changes and the team won’t be weakened. We go into every game positively.
“I think Saturday at Newcastle was only our second loss in 10 games. It’s only the second time we’ve lost away from home so there are still positives there in the overall picture of the season.
“But we know we need to turn draws into wins. Hopefully that starts with two massive home games beginning on Wednesday night against Manchester City.”
West Brom youngster Saido Berahino has finally put pen to paper on a new three-and-a-half year contract to stay at the club until June 2017.