City prepares for United battle

Updated: 2011-12-20 08:06

(China Daily)

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Mancini warns players to watch out for Manchester rival

MANCHESTER, England - Roberto Mancini has warned his Manchester City players they face a fight right until the end of the season from neighbor Manchester United for the Premier League title.

United briefly replaced big-spending City at the top of the table after a 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday before Mancini's side returned to the summit following its 1-0 defeat of Arsenal later in the day.

David Silva's winner - City's 50th Premier League goal of the season - restored his side's two-point advantage at the top and left Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger declaring his team's title chances had all but vanished. But ahead of a busy festive program, Mancini has told his men to prepare for a battle to the end of the season with reigning English champion United.

"We can't think that we can win the title without a fight from United," said Mancini. "It's impossible.

"We want to stay top for a long time - not only for Christmas," City's Italian manager said.

City, who entertain Stoke on Wednesday, produced the perfect response against Arsenal after its unbeaten league start was ended by Chelsea last Monday.

Pablo Zabaleta hit the woodwork but Silva's fifth league goal ensured it was business as usual at Eastlands.

"We are delighted because after losing to Chelsea it was really important to beat Arsenal," said Mancini.

"We deserved to win the game. We didn't deserve to lose to Chelsea, but that is football."

Reflecting on the win over the Gunners, Mancini said: "It was a great game, not for the managers, but for the supporters. We had a fantastic performance as Arsenal are playing very well at the moment.

"When you play against Arsenal they have players like Gervinho, (Theo) Walcott and (Robin) van Persie who can score at any moment.

"For our character this was a big test and we showed we are a strong team."

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 12/20/2011 page22)