Mancini tells Manchester City to beat Stoke to pile the pressure on title rivals United

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has his sights on reclaiming top spot in the Barclays Premier League this weekend after negotiating the tough obstacle of Chelsea.

Mancini's men moved back within a point of leaders Manchester United by coming from behind to beat the Londoners 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Both Manchester clubs have nine games remaining - including their derby clash next month - but City can move back to the summit with victory at Stoke on Saturday as United are not in action again until they host Fulham on Monday.

Mancini said: 'I don't know if it was a champions' performance but we gave a very good performance in a difficult game.

Looking up: City came back from a goal down to beat Chelsea

Looking up: City came back from a goal down to beat Chelsea

'I enjoyed it like the supporters. It was really important to win. It was difficult because we were playing against a top team but we want to go back to the top.

'We have a very difficult game on Saturday against Stoke and this game was important for the three points.'

City made a lively start and hit the bar through Samir Nasri, but became laboured and anxious as the first half wore on.

Chelsea grabbed the lead with a deflected strike from Gary Cahill on the hour, but the game tipped back in City's favour after Mancini introduced the controversial figure of Carlos Tevez moments later.

Tevez, making his first appearance in six months following his dispute with the club, entered the field to a mostly positive response from supporters.

Catalyst: Carlos Tevez came on and City's fortunes were transformed

Catalyst: Carlos Tevez came on and City's fortunes were transformed

City levelled when Sergio Aguero converted a penalty after Michael Essien handled and Tevez then combined with Nasri to set up a winner for the impressive Frenchman five minutes from time.

Mancini said: 'I was frustrated in the first half when we had three or four incredible chances and didn't score.

'In this moment, at this stage of the season, when you get chances you need to score because it is very important.

'But I think they gave a fantastic performance; they wanted to win and they deserved to win the game. We didn't deserve to lose.

'It was a big performance, we expended a lot of energy and now we need to recover very well.'

Mancini admitted recent form had been a concern.

Last time out: City eased past Stoke 3-0 at the Etihad, with two goals from Sergio Aguero

Last time out: City eased past Stoke 3-0 at the Etihad, with two goals from Sergio Aguero

City have won all 15 of their home matches in the league this season - and a Premier League record 20 in succession - but away results have prevented them pulling away from United.

United took over at the top after City were beaten at Swansea 11 days ago, which was their fourth away league loss in the last three months.
City also went out of the Europa League to Sporting Lisbon a week ago and Mancini said: 'I don't think we have played well in the last three or four weeks.

 

'At times we have played some fantastic football but in the last month we have been so-so. But after this hopefully something can change.'

Enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli was substituted at half-time after an indifferent performance last night, but Mancini said there were no issues between the pair.

He said: 'I didn't like how he played and I made a tactical substitution - only this.'