Mancini says title is City's if United less than six points ahead by derby
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE:Roberto Mancini is confident Manchester City will retain the title if they travel to Manchester United in April within “four or five points” of their hosts after his team responded impressively to the leaders’ 2-1 victory over Liverpool earlier yesterday to register a first league win at Arsenal since 1975.
The Italian was impressed with his side’s reaction to slipping briefly 10 points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, with his mood darkened only by the red card awarded to Vincent Kompany late on. City will appeal against the dismissal, claiming the Belgian’s challenge on Jack Wilshere was not two-footed but, regardless, have been heartened by this comfortable success against opponents who had been reduced to 10 themselves early on.
“It was an important victory because it’s difficult to play and win here,” said Mancini. “United are a really strong team. In this moment they play very well. But the season is long.
“We have the derby on April 6th and we need to arrive there five or four points behind, it is OK. I don’t think that we deserve to stay seven points behind United but that is where we are.”
The City manager’s frustration was reserved for Mike Dean’s decision to send off Kompany 15 minutes from time after the centre-half stretched into a tackle on Wilshere. The official interpreted the Belgian’s challenge as two-footed from where he viewed it – the player’s right foot was actually tucked slightly behind his left calf as his left won the ball cleanly – with Kompany later posting a picture of the tackle on his Twitter account.
“No grudges against the referee, I understand the difficulty of the job,” he wrote. “About the tackle: if the ball is overrun by the opponent and a 50/50 challenge occurs, collision is inevitable. Ultimately I’m a defender. Appeal may work or not. I will never pull out of a challenge, as much as I will never intend to injure a player.”
If the card stands, Kompany will miss an FA Cup fourth-round tie and league games against Queens Park Rangers and Fulham.
Arsene Wenger suggested his own side had lacked conviction in the early stages, their nervous opening compounded by Laurent Koscielny’s 10th-minute dismissal for hauling down Edin Dzeko.
“You have to live with that decision but, overall, we started too timid with not enough authority,” said the Arsenal manager.
City took advantage, fine reward for those City fans who had paid £62 a ticket to attend. The visitors had returned 912 of their allocation of 3,000 to Arsenal with the assistant referee, John Brooks, actually urging Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott at the final whistle to “go and thank them, they’ve paid £62”. The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, had admitted he did not blame City’s fans for not taking up their full allocation.