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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Martinez's woe at wretched Everton

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Richards could return by end of month

Micah Richards could return from a knee injury more swiftly than expected and be back in action by the end of November, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has said.

Richards was stretchered off during Saturday's 1-0 win over Swansea and it had been thought that the defender could be absent for up to four months.

But Mancini said: "I read three months, but I don't know why. I think maybe in three or four weeks [he can return] - one month maximum. He didn't do his meniscus. He only had two stitches in his knee. So it is good for us."

Richards missed the start of the season after suffering an ankle problem while on Olympic duty with Team GB, and was making only his fourth appearance of the season against Swansea.

With the England international sidelined, City were without all three of their right-backs in the closing stages against the Swans.

But Mancini confirmed that Pablo Zabaleta will be fit to return at West Ham on Saturday, while Javi Garcia, out for a month with a thigh problem, is also available for the trip to Upton Park.

However, Maicon and David Silva are both still absent, but the manager suggested they could be in contention to face Tottenham next Sunday. He said: "Maicon and Silva are working. They need another week or 10 days."

While Sir Alex Ferguson said it could be a three-horse title race between the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea, Mancini believes five clubs are in contention, saying he feels Tottenham and Arsenal can also lift the trophy.

City are now the only unbeaten team in the four English league divisions but Mancini, referring to negative coverage of the club after their Champions League defeat to Ajax, joked: "Last week, I thought we were in the last position in the table."

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