• Premier League

Mancini wary of Chelsea title threat

ESPN staff
November 30, 2012

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has batted away the idea that the Premier League is already a two-horse race between his side and rivals Manchester United.

City lie second behind United in the Premier League but are six points ahead of third-placed Chelsea. Yet Mancini believes any number of teams can effectively play catch up given how many games there are before the finish line is even in sight.

"I think Chelsea could be [in it]," said Mancini. "We have another 24 games. It is too long to say.

"Last year in [the last] six games we recovered eight points. Teams like Tottenham and Arsenal can recover these points in the next 24 games but it is difficult to say this now." City's next task is to get past Everton, a side the champions have lost to in five of their last six meetings.

David Moyes' side visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday sitting in sixth place but having only won one of their last eight games. But Mancini is ready for another grilling from the Merseysiders who he believes could make the top four come the end of the season.

"Everton started the season very well," he added. "They can finish in the Europa League but also they have the quality to finish fourth. Why not? They are a strong team, they have a strong mentality.

"Everton are difficult for everyone: for us, for Manchester United, for Chelsea because every game they play against a top squad they play very, very well. Every match we play against them we have a problem.

"I think that Saturday will be the same. For the top team to beat Everton it is difficult and you beat them only if you play a fantastic game. They always play [at] 100 percent."

If City are to stay ahead of the chasing pack Mancini believes the goals of Mario Balotelli will be vitally important. The striker opened the scoring in the 2-0 win against Wigan, and he has a role to play going forward.

"It's important for him [Balotelli] because he scored the first goal," Mancini said. "It's important because he scored an important goal in a difficult moment and now I hope he can continue because we need his goals."

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