Catching Manchester United will be easy for Premier League champions Manchester City, according to manager Roberto Mancini.
City ate away at an eight-point deficit with just six games left last season and this year they find them nine points off the pace with 13 to play.
But the Italian concedes his side may have to win all their remaining games, starting with the trip to Southampton on Saturday.
“They have nine more points than us because they did better than us,” Mancini said. But in three months everything can change, like last year.”
“If we can recover eight points in six games, I think that to recover nine points in 13 games will be easy.
“But it is important that we win all our games and Manchester United maybe stop some time.
“Nine points today could be too much but I think with 13 games to play it is important that we believe.”
United don’t play until Sunday, giving Mancini’s side the opportunity to reduce the gap to six points before Sir Alex Ferguson’s side kick a ball.
But Mancini does not view City’s trip to the south coast to face Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton as a foregone conclusion.
“Southampton is tough,” he said.
“They have a new manager, they defend better and it will be hard tomorrow.”
He added: “I watched the game against Everton, I watched the game against United, where they didn’t deserve to lose, and against Wigan and they are playing very well in this moment.”
Mancini has Kolo and Yaya Toure available for selection, after they returned from South Africa following Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations exit.
But he is sweating over the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, who will face a late fitness test to determine if he can play.
Image courtesy of Yahoo UK video, with thanks.